Icon: Yasmin Newman

by Lynda Lorraine

In my Icon Series I highlight prominent and inspirational figures, experts in their fields, sports people and entertainers who are in the public eye that are of Filipino descent to help increase visibility so that future generations of people of Filipino descent have names and faces that they can relate to of their own heritage.

Lynda Lorraine

I spent years watching my mum cook and searching for Filipino cookbooks to lean about Filipino cuisine. The first book in my collection was brief, but authentic, and also handily had a book in the series about traditional London cuisine. I also scoured the bookshops in the Philippines whenever I visited, but publications on the subject of Filipino cuisine were sparse, until recently.

The first of this new movement of recipe books and promotion of Filipino cuisine came to me in the form of Yasmin Newman’s award winning first book, 7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines.

I journey through the exotic land of my mother and uncover the country’s rich and vibrant food.

Yasmin Newman

Yasmin is a food and travel writer, photographer and presenter. She is a second generation Australian and was able to visit the Philippines on numerous occasions, giving her a deeper perspective on Filipino food culture.

I was delighted when I stumbled across her book in 2013 as she portrayed the authentic flavours of a cuisine that is largely unknown globally. I bought the book instantly and has since been my cooking ‘bible’ at home.

In more recent years there has been a very welcome explosion of the pride and promotion of Filipino food culture. This should be no surprise to anyone that knows anyone of Filipino descent, as they are fiercely proud of their food, family life with food, celebrating with food (even if it is just a simple snack shared with friends), sharing their food and obsessed with food in general. From pod casts, restaurants and food outlets showcasing traditional and contemporary twists you can find it all. I have noticed a particular growth of awareness in the USA, Australasia and London.

In fact it could be said that this food obsession for Filipinos, is much more than a mere pleasurable pursuit. It is no exaggeration to say that it is the cultural language of the Philippines. Filipino’s use food to spend time with loved ones, for romance, to say sorry, ask for favours and to give thanks. Its unique food culture is the direct result of its archipelago architecture on the edge of the Pacific, tropical geography and unique history. With ancient influences from Indonesia and Malaysia, colonial and trade influences from Spain, China, Mexico and the USA and even more recently Japan and Korea. Leaving complex impressions on the nations cuisine, and an insight into the culture and history of the Philippines.

7000 Islands has recipes for classic Filipino dipping sauces, typically vinegary infusions which tend to go with the majority of meals and some snacks such as fried lumpia, breakfasts, soups, seafood, celebration food, barbecue, rice and noodles, vegetables and salads, snacks, desserts and drinks. It leaves no stone unturned and is a great book for anyone that is unfamiliar with Filipino cuisine.

Image © Yasmin Newman

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