The twelfth edition of â€œLasang Pinoy,â€ is this month, and the theme, by host Ces of Essences, is fusion cooking. Frankly, I thought I would have great difficulty coming up with something for this monthâ€™s LP12 entry. I considered skipping it all together. I typically cringe at the thought of fusion cooking as it seems, at first go, somewhat contrived to mix ingredients and styles from diametrically opposed corners of the globe. I generally try to serve meals from one area, where ingredients are commonâ€¦ so perhaps I would offer an Italian style meal or if I mix it up a little maybe some antipasto then a large paellaâ€¦but Spain and Italy are right next to each otherâ€¦ I also try to keep some regional integrity here in the Philippines and serve perhaps more of Bicolano or Tagalog meal rather than a selection of pinakbet, laing and a malunggay soup, for example. And yet, I do see the advantages of say a sinigang na ulo ng salmon, or a spaghetti with talangka, or chico with prosciutto. Experimentation is good and after all, if it tastes good to you, why not right? At any rate, as I prepared my LP 12 entry, I decided to do an entire fusion meal and not just one dishâ€¦and to start, here is the fusion table that I set for the LP12 anniversary dinnerâ€¦
Fusion at its best is glorious, but at its worst, mongrelized (I can think of a less kind word starting with a â€œbâ€). There is nothing wrong with mixing breeds, it just means you are mixing breeds. So, for the table setting, I eschewed any cloth tablecloths and instead just hand polished our dining table made of local kamagong and tindalo hardwoods so it would set the base palate of rich browns and deep black. On that I set very neutral and natural â€œbanigâ€ or mat weave placemats at each seat. On that were some Japanese style ceramics including flat rectangular plates and some bowls and dishes in a two-toned brown color scheme. Plates were made by my cousin who is Filipino but trained for years under a Japanese master potter on some distant Japanese island many years ago. I added a stark white Chinese rice bowl for contrast. Thai chopsticks in dark brown are set at right, leaning on sterling silver chopstick rests. I have a little white overturned Japanese ceramic sake cup to serve as a base for a real native dayap fruit, later cut open so guests could squeeze it over their food. A simple very thin water glass made in Poland is set at the upper right. A classic white linen napkin with European proportions is underneath the rectangular plate. Finally, set on the left, breaking numerous rules, is a silver soup spoon with an ornate classic Western pattern.
At the center of the table, I added more banig placemats and on them I placed several different French lead crystal bowls and serving dishes that looked great empty as they absorb and reflect light as only real crystal can, and they served the dual purpose of centerpiece and serving vessels later in the meal. I also added locally made white ceramic votive candle holders with cool holes all over them that were overruns of a design made for a Scandinavian company. Dot the table with a bunch of locally grown green Mexican Jalapeno chillis and I think I have covered 5 out of the seven continents (nothing on the table from Africa or Antartica!). Howâ€™s that for mixing it all up??? Next up, the dinner served that eveningâ€¦