Saveur & Cradle of Flavor


Over a dozen people have emailed, texted or called me regarding the February 2007 issue of Saveur Magazine. I have been meaning to write a post on it ever since I bought the magazine nearly a month ago while on a trip to Hong Kong… but only got around to book4it now. I am grateful to all of the readers who have gone out of their way highlight this issue knowing that the subject matter is near and dear to me. For several years now, I have wondered why Filipino food has received so little press, particularly in mainstream American food magazines, when as an ethnic population, we are amongst the largest Asian group of migrants in the U.S. Instead, much more focus has been placed on the likewise terrific cuisines of Vietnam, Thai, and far more obscure (to me) locations in Southeast Asia and nearby neighbors. I have written several of these magazines privately to encourage them to cover Pinoy food, and always hoped they would figure it out sometime soon… well, this may finally be our time… In the Saveur Top 100 Favorite Things, the editors have listed Filipino food at number 28! Titled, Asia’s Soul Food, it points out that many of our dishes have an “extravagant depth that distinguishes it from other Asian cuisines.” Yahoo! But there is more to the story that meets the eye in that 1/4th page coverage…


Saveur has always been a terrific food magazine. But it became wildly more terrific to me when it appointed as its new Editor-in-Chief, James Oseland, a certifiable Southeast Asian Nut who spent some critical time as a college student in Jakarta then in the next 20 years of his life returned and traveled the region extensively, except for the Philippines, I think. book1So if you flip through the current Saveur, it has his imprint all over it and the magazine has noticeably gone Asian…what with mangoes and chilies, the Saturday Farmers Market in Stockton, California, for Asian produce, Japanese style curry, Star Anise, Pinoy Food, Chinese Celery, Biryani Rice, etc. all making the list. I am utterly thrilled. And as I have extended an open invitation before, I would be happy to host a visiting party of editors and writers from Saveur should they ever plan to come to the Philippines… we would definitely show them the best the archipelago has to offer. If you want to get a bit more authentic flavor of the region, you must buy James Oseland’s cookbook Cradle of Flavor. It is a very down to earth cookbook featuring fantastic home cooked recipes from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. I lived in Indonesia for many years and a lot of the recipes in this book immediately bring back memories of terrific meals I had in Indonesia. If you read the cookbook and flip through Saveur’s pages, you will totally understand who is influencing this tectonic shift in food focus to the East…


29 Responses

  1. Hi MM! Thanks for the heads up. Hope I’ll be able to get my hands on a copy of this issue. I bought Cradle of Flavor and Memories of Philippine Kitchens at the same time- I love both! I am glad that our cuisine is finally getting recognized (beyond lumpia and pancit!)

  2. We make significant progress Number 28 out of 100 is not a bad rating at all! It took the Romans hundred years to build Rome! Whoever is running the magazine has a great influence on what they feature. Perhaps James Oseland will swing by Manila one of these days and fall in love with our diverse cuisine and extend his stay at the Metropolis or other islands there and the rest will be history. We have a lot to offer besides our world renowned mangoes. If you happen to be the lucky one chosen to show Mr. Oseland around please please do not take him to our wet markets!

  3. Maria Clara, oddly, I think Mr. Oseland would love some of our wet markets…that’s where the grittiness and honesty of our food will emanate from…

  4. This is great!!! I am so happy to hear that our cuisine is getting some of the attention it deserves! 28 out of 100…not bad at all!

  5. Essa, omigosh TALAGA!!! PHP1.5 million per diner… yikes! It sounds amazing but I think I would have to pass on that one…heeheehee. Thanks for the link though… if any Marketmanila readers make it to the dinner give us a review, will you???

  6. Hi MarketMan,

    Check out the UK Food & Travel magazine this month. Philippines on the cover…very nice feature and quite a number of pages about our food and culture!

  7. I agree with you about the wet markets Marketman. So they smell and they’re wet. They’re wet markets. And it’s not just the honesty and grittiness of the food, but of the local culture as well. I don’t know about you or the others but everytime I set foot in a new place, I make sure I visit the market. Not only is it useful for my work, but you can learn a lot about the surrounding community–of course, including their food preferences–by experiencing their market. You also get to appreciate the totality of the Filipino. There’s nothing to be ashamed of, only of things criminal and immoral. While we need to take stock of things that we do need to work on, let us equally be proud of what we have to offer. I say never be ashamed of what or who you are. Be a proud Filipino. With that you’ll find that peoples of other nations can only but respect you, warts and all. But yes, there’s nothing like putting our best foot forward. By all means, let us show the world what we and our cuisine are made of. If and when your foodies and foreign editors come, make us proud Marketman.

  8. wow! that’s way cool! it’s a good thing that philippine cuisine is finally getting the recognition it truly deserves. parang na-typecast na kasi ang pinoy food as “brown food” that’s why more often than not, foreigners wouldn’t even try our cuisine. hopefully, this recognition goes further. proud to be pinoy!

  9. hi MM- incidentally in the lonely planet’s 2007 bluelist, they cite adobo in manila as something good. i rarely hear foreigners say they like our food so i was thrilled to see that =)

  10. hey MM I just found mine last night I have been away for so long that all my food magazine have collected I just started reading them and last night… saveur was my mag. there it was…its really feels so good!!!

  11. WOW!!!

    28TH OUT OF 100????!!! That’s GGRRREEEAT!!!

    I’m getting me a copy of that Saveur February issue. Pronto!

    I wonder where I can grab a copy of Food and Travel UK edition here in the Philippines?

  12. Thank you very much, Mr. Marketman. Will do that.;)

    Who knows, maybe in the not so distant future, we’ll be reading a feature about you in the pages of Saveur. hmmm…

  13. Oh thank goodness, Filipino cuisine finally gets some serious recognition! I was alarmed by recent reviews in US blogs, regarding their first taste of what they believe is Pinoy food — thanks to Jollibee restaurants popping up around the globe. These bloggers, aghast at our sweet spaghetti with hotdog bits, and our burgers with sweet pink sauce, have crowned “Filipino food” as the worst they’ve ever tasted, and vow to never taste it again.

  14. I am going to buy this today! I went to my local B&N to see if I could buy the Christmas issue (late, I know) and saw this issue, it looked interesting, but I was more interested in seeing our food showcased (the Sinigang recipe) so I flipped through it and put it back. I thought about getting it considering it’s the 100 issue, and only now that I read your post saying our food’s in there will I definitely buy it.
    As all the others have said, it is about time Filipino Food is recognized beyond “those egg noodles and egg roll things”. Now if they would beef up the history books (some people actually think our language is Spanish) and add at least one piece of Philippine art to the MET, I’d be even more pleased.

  15. I bought Cradle of Flavor last summer and I have slowly cooked my way through this excellent book. What I love about the recipes from this cookbook is that they always taste exotic yet familiar. My subscription to Saveur is always eagerly awaited. As soon as I find it in my mailbox I put anything am doing on hold, make a cup of tea and savor each page. Saveur and Gourmet magazines are my two favorite food mags and being in the food business I receive quite a few.

  16. that pork barbecue on the cover of “cradle..” – the styling is so simple yet stunning! a great way of showing off our “brown” food…

  17. I am currently reading the bbc link posted by Essa (comment no. 5). Insane! but then the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa once said,
    “In a mad world only the mad are sane.”

    I’m really glad that Philippine cuisine is now recognized and respected by Saveur. Pinoy food will bring back the glory of our proud race now marred by the sickening taste of Goma’s senatorial ambition.
    ( in another browser feeding the flames of my hunger)

  18. MM and DADD-F. I agree with both of you re: wet markets. Like Dadd-F, I seek out the wet markets whenever I am out of town or abroad. They are not only a microcosm of the town’s/country’s food preferences, they are a microcosm of the town’s/country’s culture as well.

  19. This is great news! I love Saveur magazine… I love their recipes. Yes, I agree with Millet…nice presentation of the barbecue. It’s a challenge in my opinion to present Filipino food so we need creative food stylists to make simple yet stunning presentations. Hope the Saveur people take on your invitation, MM.

  20. Cecile J, very well put. My thoughts and sentiments exactly. And if I may reiterate, Filipino cuisine/culture has so so much to offer the world. We only have to see it ourselves, so that others may also recognise it for what it truly is.

    And Mojito_Drinker, when I was in England studying, I learned to appreciate and whip up non-Filipino dishes that friends from different countries appreciated. But the Filipino food I never failed to serve, they always ate with gusto and the adobo and leche flan were unceasingly raved about. And the rice, the rice, how we ever make simply steamed rice so delectable must be such mystery to them. Nothing techy, nothing grand. I cooked (still do) rice the old-fashioned way.

    Anyway, I think I have to get hold of this Saveur magazine. My apologies for my ignorance. Am a promdi through and through and this high-falutin’ stuff is kind of new to me.

  21. MM, if and when you do host the saveur editorial staff in our country (which i will honestly pray 10 hail marys for), please take them to the farmers wet market IF you are indeed taking them to one. and show them around a ‘dampa’ type of eating place (but not necessarily to eat) just to show them that filipino dining-out is never really just about the food, sometimes it is never about it at all. and i am not implying the food is bad (but refrain from eating na rin there, hehehe).

    also try to (1)point out, and (2)count all carinderias/ihaw-ihaws/lechon manoks you pass by on your ‘tour’ and calculate it vis-a-vis the car’s tripmeter so you can make them realize that we really need an emergency food outlet every 0.75kms or so (and this is outside the city!). and aside from gourmet-type food, of course sample our regional longanisas, batchoy noodle soup, tsokolate eh, ensaymadas, san miguel beer, etc. visit a kamayan perhaps? what do you think about them all too predictable, fear factor balut and isaw? avoidable no?

    anyway, i can’t wait to read about your itinerary in case my ‘saveur in manila live!’ prayers are granted. or your menu for that event for that matter! wow! come to think of it, it must be the ultimate 20-course pinoy dinner!!!

  22. You can buy this month’s Saveur for $5 at and read it on your computer. Pretty nifty, this digital magazine delivery. Check out the free magazines – I recommend Architectural Record and National Geographic Traveler. Or for $20 you can subscribe to Saveur for a year — paperless, instant, and much cheaper than our local newsstands!

  23. MM, i’ve been reading your blog for some time now but have been rather timid about commenting. i live quite literally at the other end of the world – not antarctica but close – the southern tip of africa – and our cuisine is not known at all in these parts. last saturday i hosted a dinner for some friends – very hip, fashion editor types – and they devoured the adobo and pechay. i did a vietnamese starter of gingered prawn satay with rice noodles which also disappeared as soon as it was served, but the adobo was really the star of the evening. and i had a sophsticated, well-travelled crowd – a jew, an afrikaner, a kiwi and an anglo were among my guests, and this was their first taste of philippine cuisine. however they balked at adding bagoong to the rice and adobo sauce!

  24. thanks pistachio for the zinio link. My officemates are in a download frenzy for free mags. nice zinio thingy.

  25. There seems to be a misconception here that the inclusion of Philippine food as “Asia’s soul food” at #28 in Saveur’s annual 100 issue is a ranking — it isn’t. As in every Saveur 100 issue past, the editors here point out that “the order of the 100 is random”.

  26. miles, yes, being included in the list at all is the key point and being number 10 or number 50 doesn’t really matter… however, if you do flip though the items listed, I would guess they did at least put items into buckets as the things near the top, say the top 25 do, at least to me, seem to be “higher up” on the list than the last 25…but that may just me my perception… Placing Thomas Keller #2 rather than 98 for example…

Comments are closed.



Subscribe To Updates

No spam, only notifications about new blog posts.