I still donâ€™t know whether to be offended or bemused. Cruising the grocery aisles at the neighborhood â€œChampionâ€ in Barcelona, my wife ran across these cookies packaged in colorful tin wrapper called â€œFilipinos.â€ We decided to buy a pack to see what it was all about (and to make sure we had something to photograph for this blog). Actually, this is not the first time I have heard of these cookies and their somewhat unusual name. I read about these in a newspaper column or blog many months back and I couldnâ€™t even remember what the comments/conclusions were. A quick search on the internet finds a serious petition to get the company to drop the use of the name. And apparently, President Estrada’s administration filed a diplomatic protest of sorts after this was noticed by folks including Nora Daza just before the millenium. And Ivan the Streetwalker has already written about these as well (as have several other food bloggers including English Patis apparently). There is also an intelligent discussion about it here. Needless to say, this does still make one wonder if naming a chocolate covered biscuit â€œFilipinosâ€ is amusing, inappropriate, offensive or simply unfortunate. Considering the size and resources of most international food companies these days, I doubt that NO ONE figured out these were named after a nationality of people; a nation that Spaniards â€œdiscoveredâ€ nearly 500 years ago. And if they just conveniently forgot, wouldnâ€™t some sense of propriety eventually get them to realize their situation and correct it by re-branding the cookies?
So letâ€™s assume it was intentional. They wanted to name it after us. Now, the next issue is why? Does the shape, flavor or taste of the confection have anything to do with it? First let me describe what it is â€“ essentially a sweet crisp cookie (less eggy than a rosquillo) that is dipped in dark chocolate. Since we only had this version (dark chocolate) at first, I tried to read into it that we Filipinos had a nice dark tanned skin. We were smooth and sweet enough yet possessed crunch and substance at the core. But this theory was quickly shattered when a further visit to the grocery yielded a veritable aisle of â€œFilipinosâ€ in white chocolate, milk chocolate, in family packs, individual packs and they even sold the CENTERS of the cookie under a different sub-brand plus other shapes and sizes as well! Yipes. Hmmm, if we were to engage in the cookie/pastry wars, would they be offended if I came up with a dessert treat called â€œSpaniardsâ€ â€“ say a pale bread with durian baked into it and rambutan fuzz on the crust so that it was hairy, pale and pungent? Heehee. I jest, I jest, I want no grief for this post! After all, we do call plain sliced white bread â€œPan Americano,â€ donâ€™t we?
At any rate, my wife, daughter and I decided we couldnâ€™t take this seriously until we turned the package over and read, I quote, â€œPruebas Filipinos despues 1 hora en la neveraâ€ or â€œTry Filipinos after 1 hour in the fridgeâ€!!! We all literally cracked up and my daughter was giggling so much she fell to the floor and rolled on her back (I think 10 year olds these days take too much from computer emoticons)! Letâ€™s just say that was a bit too much. What if my mythical â€œSpaniardsâ€ came with instructions â€œPruebas Espanoles despues 1 hora en el hornoâ€ or â€œTry Spaniards after 1 hour in the ovenâ€??? We decided this was really a non-issue but if any of you have a really good theory or the facts regarding the choice of Filipinos as a name for the cookie, I am certainly curious. I don’t buy the lone plausible theory I found which is that Spaniards liked Philippine cacao above all others (over Mexican, Ecuadorian, or other South American sources?). Was the name a tribute to their colonized subjects? Were they replicating a cookie that the friars only found in the Philippines? Perhaps a rosquillo being brought to Spain that accidentally fell into a cooling vat of chocolate? Was there some awful ulterior motive? Why are these silly cookies called Filipinos??? Come to think of it, wasnâ€™t there some big brouhaha a few years ago when the Oxford or was it Greek dictionary defined â€œFilipinasâ€ as â€œhousehold helpersâ€ or something equally inappropriate? You think the modern day Trojans, from Troy, now part of Turkey, filed a protest when they became synonymous with latex prophylactics? Heeheehee.