THE air is thick with the aromas of familiar flavors, with some even harking back to one’s childhood days in the ‘bale matua’ or old casa when apu (grandmother) would prepare the family’s favorite home-cooked meals. A mere whiff of what’s cooking in the live stations and food kiosks send a stream of fond memories.
This was the scene at the recently-concluded Kapampangan Food Festival held Thursday at the Asean Convention Center in Clark.
The festival, which aims to showcase the province’s distinct flavors, as well as promote Kapampangan culinary heritage, is part of the week-long celebration of the 446th Aldo Ning Kapampangan (Pampanga Day).
During the event, thousands of foreign and local guests devoured in a sumptuous feast, curated and prepared by highly-regarded culinary icons from the province who each gave their own traditional and modern take on the Kapampangan fare.
Walking along the buffet stations, one will find dishes such as Pork Belly Bringhe, Kilayin, Morcon, Maya-Maya Mayones, Chicken Galantina, Camaro Taco, Relyenong Batute, Pindang Damulag, Pancit Luglug, Asadong Dila, and Kalderetang Kambing.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who graced the event with daughter and Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio, had a personal tour of the food exhibit.
Delighted by the gastronomic sight, the country’s top leader noted that he now firmly believes that “Pampanga isn’t just a place where one can find the most number of beautiful women” but is also the home-province of some of the country’s best native food offerings.
He shared that the dishes he was presented reminded him of a time in the past when he would indulge in Kapampangan meals cooked by his neighbors.
“Alam mo, I grew up in a place called Davao and it was a mixed crowd there. As a matter of fact, I remember with fondness my neighbors who were Kapampangans. And everytime I get invited by the family to break bread with them, masayang masaya talaga ako kasi masarap talaga ang lutong Pampangueno,” he said.
He added that Kapampangans’ exceptional culinary taste and ingenuity can be attributed not only by the influences of the Americans and the Spaniards, but by the Kapampangan’s “native talent,” per se.
Aside from the main course, the president and guests also sampled delectable appetizers like Pako Salad, Bulanglang Soup Crispy Okoy, Sisig, Puto’t Dinuguan, Buro’t Hito Fillet, and Tamales, to name some.
The food fest also put spotlight on the province’s well-loved desserts and all-time favorite kakanin like Puto Bumbong, Duman Kalame, Mochi, Tibok-Tibok, Ensaymada, Sampelot, Buko Pandan, Lelot Mais, and Tsokolateng Batirol.
Sago’t Gulaman, Ginumis, and Lemon Grass coolers, were likewise featured at the beverage station, adjacent to the dessert table which served Filipino and Kapampangan street foods like ice cream, sherbet, taho, binatog, balot and penoy.
Present during the food expo were well-acclaimed Kapampangan chefs like Sau Del Rosario, Claude Tayag, Howard Dizon, Lourdes Castro, Judy Uson, Chloe Ann Caugiran, and exhibitors namely Susie’s Cusines, Carreon’s Delicacy, Delyn’s Delicacy, My Lola Nor’s, and Taldawa Kambingan.
The Kapampangan Food Festival was initiated by the provincial government led by Governor Lilia Pineda and Culinarya Pampanga, a network of chefs and restaurateurs from the province, in a bid to make Kapampangan cuisine more globally competitive.
Pampanga during the Spanish colonial times, became the capital of Philippine cuisine. It was a melting pot of Spanish, Mexican, Malay, and even French influences that would go on to define what Filipino cuisine was to the rest of the world.