If you don't happen to have any of your own Memories of Philippine Kitchens — banana hearts in coconut milk, chicken tinola, hot salabat — Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan's cookbook by that name will soon be rereleased with updated content (the book includes a history of Filipino foods) and recipes.
And if you haven't seen the 2006 copy, a lifetime ago in current online cookbook terms, in brief: The book is a compilation of personal and local travel stories from the authors, little history nuggets (the Chinese influence on Filipino dishes, where various ingredients are native) and traditional as well as the couple's own recipes. The authors, who now live in Brooklyn, are both from the Philippines. The couple owned Cendrillon restaurant in Manhattan for more than a decade, and now have Purple Yam in Brooklyn, where Dorotan is the chef.
Forewarning to those who have been weaned on the gorgeous (in terms of photos and graphic design, if not content) celebrity chef cookbooks and splashy blogger kitchen memoir cookbooks of the last few years: This book will not be what you are expecting in a cookbook. We mean that as a beef short rib adobo recipe compliment.
The photos are lovely, sure, but more in that Diana Kennedy culinary anthropology vein, and the recipes are meant to illustrate a regionally specific genre of cooking (as Kennedy also does so well in Oaxaca al Gusto). The traditional sinacugan (black rice or white rice and glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk) that Glenda Rosales-Barretto, a native of Makati, makes; a family's bringhe (Filipino-style paella made with glutinous rice that's steamed in banana leaves for a cake-like presentation) recipe from Arayat. The couple visited several families throughout the Philippines to catalog their cooking styles.
The revised version of Memories of a Philippine Kitchen (to be released May 1) is not an encyclopedic lifetime of reflection and study like Oaxaca al Gusto. But it is still a wish-list must for your cookbook archives if you are interested in regional family cooking in the Philippines — and if for no other reason than that tidtad baca (pig's blood stew from Pampanga) recipe.
Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page. Find more from the author @eathistory + eathistory.com.