It’s time for Filipino food to get its limelight as America’s favorite cuisine. At least, according to Anthony Bourdain, it is.
The Parts Unknown host sat down with CNN Philippines for a discussion on Filipino fare in the United States and where it’s headed. He claims that American palates are just starting to “become seriously interested” in Filipino food, but they’re to begin “embracing and learning” about one of the most underrated but delicious cuisines out there.
Of course, as with any cultural food getting its chance to shine in the United States, some dishes are going to be more mainstay and recognizable to U.S. consumers than others. These “gateway dishes” are what gets people hooked onto a cuisine. For Filipino food, Bourdain believes that dish to be sisig, a mouthwatering combination of chopped pig’s head and liver (though other popular iterations can include pork cheek and pork belly) that is sauteed in vinegar and peppers and served sizzling in a skillet, usually with an egg.
“I think sisig is perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole… I think it’s the most likely to convince people abroad who have had no exposure to Filipino food to maybe look further and investigate further beyond sisig. I think that’s the one that’s gonna hook them.”
Bourdain’s reasons for sisig being that “gateway dish” include the variety of textures and crisp flavors inside of it, the accessibility and relative cheapness of the dish, as well as the fact that it goes great with a few beers.
Bourdain isn’t the only one with that opinion on sisig and Filipino food. Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold has also noted that “the Filipino Food moment” is now upon us, and its unique yet familiar flavors and cheap prices have finally thrust it into the gaze of American food culture.
Our managing editor and resident Filipino Foodbeast, Reach Guinto, expanded on Bourdain’s and Gold’s thoughts, noting that sisig is “accessible and versatile” and can be served in a “variety of styles” that are more appealing to American palates, such as with the cheap but beloved pork belly. Reach also feels that the creativity of Filipino chefs in the United States and social media gives the cuisine a huge advantage.
“Filipino food has always been around, but the awareness brought about through social media and tastemakers like Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern have brought Filipino food into a prominent platform. I believe a lot of it has to do with these first generation Filipino Americans riding the wave of food being so diverse and creative these days. They’re taking the influences and tastes that they grew up with and putting their own creative spin on them. What’s more, they are the new restaurateurs that are starting to pop up in place of immigrant Filipino mom-and-pop joints that we all grew up eating at. Also, food’s relationship with social media now allows these young, hungry, tech savvy Filipino chefs to leverage that technology for more exposure.”
I’d even be bold enough to add it to my list of 2017 food trends because the Filipino food scene has exploded, largely in part to what Reach, Jonathan Gold, and Bourdain have brought up. The cuisine is poised to spread across the USA like wildfire, and the cheap but flavorsome sisig is going to be a big reason why that happens in the immediate future.