Originally intended as a textbook for Food Technology or Experimental cookery students, The Science of Philippine Foods is a goldmine of information that covers not just food science but short descriptions of Philippine culinary history and food studies.
This 2nd edition book, released in 1982, gives readers a glimpse of the foodways of thepast, embedded in a food science book. For instance, chapter 4 thoroughly covers the composition, structure, nutritional value and cooking methods of red meat and includes a short description of the attributes of horsemeat and its place in Filipino foodways.Similarly, the topic on fish smoking or Tinapa gave detailed instructions on the handling and production method. The process is tedious and time consuming and made me appreciate the art and science behind this beloved food item.
Although the book has very visible signs of aging (oxidized paper, illustrations and photographs are not clear), the content is timeless and the research generated to bring this book together reflects Philippine culinary culture. Filipino food terminology such as “malauhog” (to describe one of the stages of a coconut) is included and this gives non-Filipinos a better grasp of our food.
Suggested experiments are included in the different chapters, although probably meant for food technology students, are easy to execute and ingredients are readily available. Reading the Condensed Milk “Caramel” experiment was a throwback for me, remindingme of how simple cooking methods can bring explosive results. I used to do this method when making “caramel” and I was always extremely satisfied with the end result: gooey, thick and rich caramel that pairs excellently with different kinds of desserts.
This book is not easy to read as it gets very technical, however, to have this book is a treasure as this thirty five year old book is a foundation book for chefs, food entrepreneurs as well as anyone in the food science field as it explains the science of food using Filipino ingredients and cooking methods, meant for Filipinos.
About Nikki Eleazar
Nikki Eleazar holds an MA in Gastronomy from the University of Adelaide and is currently pursuing her PhD in Home Economics from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She is a lecturer in several colleges and universities and also does restaurant consultancy. She was an NFP awardee in 2017 and spent several weeks in Amsterdam studying the urban food systems of the city and is currently doing research on food sustainability.