Filipino food

Peacetime Quiapo-themed dinner promotes cultural heritage of old Manila

Matthew G. Yuching

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Peacetime Quiapo-themed dinner promotes cultural heritage of old Manila

CHAMPORADO. Mama Sitau2019s Balatinaw Heirloom Rice Champorado Topped with Pinipig and a side serving of evaporated milk and danggit bits.

Matthew Yuching/Rappler

The dinner took inspiration from recipes from the early 1900s, provided by families with roots in Quiapo

MANILA, Philippines – What kind of dishes did Manileños eat in the 1920s, when art deco was in vogue? Cultural historian Fernando Zialcita found ways to take guests back in time.

Organized by Zialcita’s Introduction to Cultural Heritage class at the Ateneo de Manila University on November 5, the annual dinner celebrated the diversity of food culture in the Philippines. The dinner, sponsored by the Mama Sita Foundation, also promoted their Heirloom Grains Project, an initiative that allows lesser-known varieties of rice to be widely accessible to the public.

Inspiration and preparation

Curated by food writer Guillermo “Ige” Ramos Jr., the dinner’s theme focused on peacetime Quiapo, a period when the district was at the center of culture, diverse architecture, and good food. Ramos aimed to capture the essence of Quiapo during that period through the menu.

To bring the menu to life, chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou opened his upcoming restaurant Lore at the dinner grounds. The five-course meal did not disappoint, showcasing recipes with modern interpretations that encapsulated old Quiapo.

The course was inspired by the Italian way of eating, according to Ramos. Small portions of dishes, with a palate cleanser in between, allowed guests to sample the food without feeling overly full.

The dinner began with the option for alcoholic gin or the Ocampo Pagoda carrot juice with calamansi, followed by the Araneta Jewel Salad – the recipe was provided by Patricia Araneta. The Nakpils also contributed to the menu, lending their recipe for tomato and cheese fettuccine.

Nakpil-Style Fettuccine with Liver Pate. Photo by Matthew Yuching

A green mango sorbet topped with chili and bagoong sugar acted as a surprisingly delicious palate cleanser for the course.

Green Mango Sorbet with Chili and Bagoong Sugar. Photo from Mama Sita Foundation

A lengua dish was served after, cooked with a gin and gravy mixture, infused with red wine.

Lengua in the 1920s-1930s Style. Mama Sita Foundation

The meal concluded with a balatinaw (a type of heirloom grain) rice champorado, topped with heirloom rice pinipig and danggit bits.

CULTURAL PRESERVATION ADVOCATES. Organizers of the Peacetime Quiapo Dinner pose for a photo. Mama Sita Foundation. Mama Sita Foundation
‘Makasaysayan, makatao, at maka-Dios’

The dinner focused on Zialcita and his team’s continued efforts to have the Quiapo district recognized as a heritage zone. Cities and districts declared heritage zones are given priority by different government agencies in restoring, preserving, and maintaining their historical and culturally relevant sites and structures.

Zialcita drove the point home by showing different significant locations in Quiapo: Calle Hidalgo, home to various figures in the writing of the Malolos Constitution; the houses built to resist natural disasters; and the interconnection of churches and mosques as places of worship.

Promote and protect Quiapo

Claire Vitug, San Sebastian Basilica Conservation and Development Foundation executive director; and Ateneo de Manila Department of Sociology and Anthropology chair Jowel Canuday highlighted the importance of persevering cultural heritages.

The dinner also recognized Manila 3rd District Representative Joel Chua, who filed House Bill 3750 in August 2022, seeking the establishment of a national heritage zone in Quiapo and its immediate surroundings. –

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