CULINARY travel has grown rapidly in popularity these past few years. It is also called gastronomic tourism, which refers to trips made to destinations where the local food and beverages are the main motivating factors for travel.
Although, there are lots of people who not only are passionate for food but also love to travel.
And recently, I just met a couple of culinary travelers in Cagayan de Oro City.
Christopher Ragas and Jinnie Lin are a married couple in their 40s who have been and still are traveling for several years in different countries just to try local cuisines.
Originally from Manila, Christopher and Jinnie moved to Cagayan de Oro City in 2015 for various reasons. In Christopher's case, it was due to a project for his job, interior designing; and in Jinnie's case, it was for health-related issue.
“Nagpahinga ako kasi nagka-cancer ako, stage 3 breast cancer. Tapos na treatment ko. I had eight sessions of Chemotherapy, 33 session of radiation, nag opera pa ako. Isang taon na gamutan,” Jinnie said.
However, despite her condition, she still insist in traveling as she really loves and is passionate about food.
“Ang iba, pagkatapos ng treatment, nanghihina. Ako, nilalabanan ko,” Jinnie said.
“Hindi ako maka-resist na hindi pumunta dun, because I have to try their food,” she added.
Even before she got married to Christopher, Jinnie has been in love with food and kept on going to different places just to search for restaurants or eateries that serve good and delicious food.
“Beforehand, nung dalaga pa ako, I love to eat talaga. Tapos passion ko talaga yung...lakwatsa talaga ako ng lakwatsa. Pupuntahan ko yan 'Oh, anong masarap dyan?' Kahit sa kalsada lang, sige lang. Tikim-tikim. Kaya sa Manila, yung mgamasasarap na resto dun, na tago, alam namin,” Jinnie said.
The same could be said to Christopher, who has been traveling to different countries even before he got married.
He said it’s mostly due to their family business that he got the chance to travel anywhere. And the first stop he just had to do is to find a place with good food.
“Since we love to eat, naku-curious kami 'paano ba ginagawa ito? Ano bang ingredients nito?' Doon kami nag start na since we love eating, bakit hindi nating business na you gather all the spices in the world, put it in one shop,” Jinnie said.
Thus, Christopher and Jinnie established the Spices and Flavors, a spice shop, in Taguig. They supply spices to hotels and prime or high end supermarkets.
Asked which country that they have visited has the most delicious food they ever tasted, Christopher and Jinnie both said it’s Thailand.
“Ang super sarap ng food. Kahit nasa kalsada ka lang, makikita mo dun yung mga fish na nakabalot sa asin, na gini-grill nya. Ang sarap. Napaka juicy, hindi sya dry, kakaiba,” Jinnie, whose favorite food are seafoods, said.
“You can eat around per head in terms of peso: P300 but the quality of food is restaurant na, hotel na. Tabing kalsada lang,” Christopher shared.
Other countries on their top list of places with good food, apart from Thailand, are Italy, Singapore and Philippines.
However, it was only in Thailand that Christopher got the interest to cook.
“Yun yung country na lagi naming binabalikan sa isang taon,” Jinnie said.
At present, Christopher and Jinnie are planning to put up a restobar in Kauswagan where they could showcase their food, which they will personally cook and serve to their customers.
According to the couple, they observed that people in Manila and in Cagayan de Oro are different to one another in terms of food.
They said that those from Manila are willing to spend any amount of money just to have a taste of the food in a certain place, while the Kagay-anons are less willing to spend much for food unless its cheaper or the food is worth the cost.
They also noticed how people often go to Manila just to eat as according to them, there are only a number of restaurants in Cagayan de Oro that have quality good food.
“We don't see mga restaurant na may quality. Kapag well-travelled ka, alam mo talaga yung masarap,” Jinnie said.
It is through those observations that they decided to open a restobar, which is also their way to share their food experience and introduce the good food they tasted while traveling.
“Yung napag-aralan mong culture sa ibang bansa, dadalhin mo sya dito at unti-unti i-introduce mo sya sa Pilipino,” Jinnie said.
“We will develop a food na kung ano lang yung available dito. Syempre hindi naman kami magi-introduce ng food kung ang raw material kukunin namin sa Manila. Talagang gagawan namin ng way kung anong pwede namin ipalit,” she added.
They also shared that one of the dishes they are going to serve in their restobar is the “inihaw na manok” but with their own personal twist.
This was after they noticed the Kagay-anon's fond for grilled chicken.
“We plan to introduce the same material pero iba ang lasa. And still healthier,” Jinnie said, adding that their food will also be affordable.
They plan on opening the restobar sometime next week.
Christopher and Jinnie are just some of the food travelers here in the Philippines whose passion and love are dedicated to food, not limiting their selves to what was in front of them but broadening their culinary experience.
Perhaps one day you could be like them too. A traveler whose purpose is to find good and quality food.