Saveur Explores Christmas in Pampanga

by arnold on December 8, 2008

I picked up the latest copy of Saveur mainly to drool over the cover story about filet mignon, but as I was thumbing my way to page 87, I caught a glimpse of a roasted pig on a spit and immediately stopped. As I started reading, I discovered that it was part of an article called “Days of Feasting” about the Christmas season in the Philippines, more specifically in the city of Arayat in Pampanga, an area known for their outstanding regional interpretation of Filipino food.

The author, Robyn Eckhardt of Eating Asia, stayed with the family of her friend and colleague Marc Medina during her stay in Pampanga, and she was introduced to the annual gorgefest that occurs all over the Philippines during the holidays. Eckhardt’s main connection to the cuisine was the Medina’s family cook, Lucia Mallari, who prepared most of the meals during her stay. Overall, it’s a good read and I suggest that you pick it up while it’s on newsstands since the article isn’t available online.

Four recipes accompany the article, including an Adobong Manok (chicken adobo) recipe that doesn’t include soy sauce (Mallari claims her recipe is the “real” one), Pinakbet (Philippine vegetable stew), Ulang sa Gata (prawns in coconut milk), and Ensaimada (Philippine-style brioche).

Seeing these recipes in Saveur, especially with their Tagalog names listed first, was really heartwarming because Filipino food hardly ever gets any attention from the “mainstream” culinary media. I’ve always thought that Filipino food could hold its own against other Asian cuisines and have often wondered what’s holding it back. It’s even more amazing when you consider that in America, Filipinos are one of the largest Asian populations in the country (approx. 4 million), but I’m willing to bet more people have eaten Thai food in their lifetime than Filipino food and there are only around 250,000 Thai people in the U.S.

Maybe Manny Pacquiao’s newly claimed worldwide superstardom is going spill over into food, and this Saveur story is just a happy coincidence that will ride the Pac-Man wave.

Blatant Manny Pacquiao cameoGratuitous Manny Pacquiao cameo.

Then again, Manny did eat at Nat’s Thai Food in Hollywood almost every day when he was training, which I thought was an odd aspect of his regimen, but I guess we have to give Thai food its props for helping power the Pacquiao Express.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Moonie December 9, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Well, Manny did have to gain 17 pounds for the fight. But if you saw the last episode of 24/7, Manny ordered a Pinoy food feast for his crew at Mandalay Bay.


Arnold December 9, 2008 at 12:59 pm

@Moonie: Hey, man…whatever works, huh? And thanks for linking me at PinoyLife.

Did you know The French Laundry offers Philippine sea salt? :-)


David December 9, 2008 at 7:41 pm

I love this issue, especially the French sauces and filet mignon articles!


Chaime December 10, 2008 at 4:20 pm

this was a great issue: I had the itch to spend all day making a veal stock from scratch and then making demi-glace! We get the issue as a courtesy (for what reason, I don’t ask!), and since I distribute the mail I always take it home and read it over and over again :)


darleene December 10, 2008 at 7:27 pm

Dude! I wonder what the layout looks like.

My mom also used to always say that Pampangan women were the best cooks. And yeah, she was Kapampangan. I wish I’d learned how to cook more from her!


Arnold December 10, 2008 at 7:38 pm

@darleene: I’ll try and scan it and make a PDF. It’s a pretty big spread with lots of pictures. I was so “froud” when I saw it. :-)


Robyn December 13, 2008 at 1:30 am

Thanks for the kind words re: our article in Saveur. But for accuracy’s sake – Lucia is the Medina family’s cook (2nd-generation, her mother was also a cook for the family), not our friend Marc’s mother. She is incredibly talented….
Happy Holidays!


Arnold December 13, 2008 at 1:38 am

@Robyn: Thanks for reading! I made the correction above. Happy Holidays to you, too!


Jude December 18, 2008 at 4:41 pm

So nice to read about the coverage of Filipino food in Saveur.


Charles December 24, 2008 at 12:30 am

This guy makes me want to eat more filipino food now.



john goose July 11, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Very nice information. Thanks for this.


Pampanga Directory August 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Thank you for featuring Pampanga. If you would like to know more of our province, please visit

Welcome to In this portal, you can find Pampanga local news, province guides, business categories, sports media, society issues,buy and sell products, services, people, tourist destinations, personals and online community.

Louie Sison


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