Thanks to Beth, the sister of the author of Hikay who carried the book from Cebu to the US and later Mar who picked it up from her house in San Diego and brought it with him to Chicago, I finally got my copy of Hikay, which is worthy of a coffee table book.
From its cover alone, the book is so beautiful and heavy. They spared no cost in publishing it, hard bound with glossy heavy gauge paper. The pictures too were carefully thought of and reflects the love given to this endeavor.
Well researched and tested, I am happy to note that the recipes are simple and manageable. As the author wrote, our taste in food is getting globalized so fast that pretty soon we are going to lose the authenticity of our regional dishes.
When I go home to the Philippines, nothing erases the fatigue and stress of intercontinental travel than having a simple dish of native chicken soup waiting with added vegetables right out of one’s backyard. The fresh products of the sea being peddled by fishmongers very early in the morning, still jumping and smell of the briny waters where they came from is worthy of losing sleep in the wee hours of the morning so you get the freshest of what they offer. The products speak of themselves, you can taste the chicken, the pork, the fish the way they should be, not camouflaged by the heat of peppers, creaminess of a cheese or with spices competing instead of complimenting the dish.
Like others I read cookbooks like a novel and this is easy reading. I finished it in one afternoon and I can’t wait to try the dishes myself. Many are familiar to me, tweaked by a simple ingredient abundant in Cebu. One example is their adobo which is almost the Philippines’ national dish but theirs has an added twist of turmeric. And I noticed their liberal use of coconut milk/cream and lemon grass.
Congratulations Louella, you’ve written another book that will surely leave your mark in Philippine food history. What a wonderful heritage our future generations are getting. I can’t wait to read the fruition of your next project.
Hikay is a Cebuano term for to prepare a feast or cooking a meal.