Saturday, July 24, 2021

Carvajal: Which adobo?

Orlando Carvajal

Break Point

THROUGH my personal lens, I see that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is doing an excellent job of harnessing local talents, initiatives and resources in promoting trade and industry. It, therefore, came as no small surprise that DTI should make such a big deal out of “standardizing” the Filipino Adobo.

What region’s Adobo will DTI standardize or, as it has stepped back, establish the basic recipe of? There’s no such thing as Filipino Adobo. What Cebuanos call Adobo is closer to Manila’s Lechon Kawali while Manila’s Adobo is closer to Cebu’s Humba. I bet other regions are also proud of their own peculiar way of preparing whatever dish they call Adobo.

By the way, in Spain and Mexico, where Adobo is supposed to have come from, it is not a dish. In these countries, adobo is a marinade. And when pork is cooked with this marinade the resulting dish is called Adobado, meaning marinated with adobo. A dish is defined by the way it is prepared and by the ingredients, including marinade used.

Furthermore, I am sure the different versions of what regions call their Adobo are no longer prepared by today’s cooks with the same ingredients that our forefathers used. There have been enhancements as dictated by availability of ingredients and their substitutes and by every cook’s pure desire and delight to create his/her own kind of Adobo.

So, what will DTI standardize next? Manila’s Litson, which needs Mang Tomas’ sauce to be palatable, is not even half as tasty as Cebu’s Lechon that has absolutely no need of a sauce. Moreover, within Cebu alone, CNT Lechon is different from Talisay and Carcar Lechons. These all have their respective fan base that swear to their specialness.

Anyway, why standardize Filipino dishes? Is there a standard Hamburger or Sukiyaki or Pizza or any other nation’s dish for that matter? How would restaurants compete for customers except by having their own more delicious and over-the-standard version of a particular dish?

The irrelevance of the project (who would care for a “standard” Adobo?) is a reflection of politicians’ and government bureaucrats’ propensity to think or do anything but what is relevant and useful to the life of average Filipinos.

Moreover, if DTI will be standardizing imperial Manila’s Adobo, it will feed into that city’s political, economic, and cultural dominance over the rest of the country. Yet Manila is not the Philippines and Manila’s Adobo is not the Filipino Adobo. Again, no such dish.

Why not work instead to provide 30 million or so poor Filipinos with a basic menu for their daily food intake. Brain power is a function of nutrition. If we want Filipinos to be enterprising we need to power their brains with a basic healthy meal.


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