MADRID—The gastronomic summit Madrid Fusion is all about innovation, with a lineup of international chefs presenting the latest food trends and techniques.
But through the efforts of Margarita Forés and Myrna Segismundo, the kinilaw, which is very basic in preparation, with hardly a hint of innovation, had the audience in awe and admiration.
It was only last October when the two chefs got an e-mail from the Madrid organizers, inviting them to do a half-hour presentation on the dish.
“I feel that it is a very good topic to introduce Philippine cuisine,” said Segismundo. “It answers all the prerequisites to what is good about food—fresh, delicate and indigenous to the place.”
With no time to waste, the duo formed a team, conceptualized and sorted out what they wanted to convey within the limited time.
Research began with a chat with the owners of Patricio’s Cevicheria on Bayani Road, Taguig. Patrick and Pia Roa opened the restaurant in 2012 to share their love of kinilaw and to serve the many versions they had discovered across the country.
The various interpretations reflect the produce from the different localities. The kinilaw variety ultimately becomes unique to the province as it uses ingredients sourced, as it were, from its own backyard.
Writer Micky Fenix and food historian Felice Prudente Santa Maria were sources of information and inspiration as they lent ideas and historic tidbits.
Meanwhile, Madrid-based couple Iñigo and Mielle Esteban were on hand to translate the script into Spanish for the crowd to understand as well as supply the support and advice.
It was a collaborative effort among good friends and it helped shape the conversation.
To show the dish’s range of preparations as well as make the talk more personal, the chefs went home to their respective provinces and touched base, in a manner of speaking, with the local version of kinilaw.
Fores is from Negros Occidental, which has easy access to the sea, while Segismundo hails from Batangas.
The contrast in geography couldn’t have been more perfect as a subject of discussion; it showed kinilaw’s regionality.
With the help of organic farmer Chin Chin Uy and the legendary Vicente “Enting” Lobaton—whom the late professor and author Doreen Fernandez cited as a big help in producing her book “Kinilaw: A Cuisine of Freshness”—Fores was able to show the different preparations of seafood kinilaw. These included fresh crab simply dipped in sweet-spicy vinegar, and a tuna variety mixed with black beans, salted egg and mayonnaise typically served in many Bacolod households.
Segismundo enumerated the souring agents, from calamansi and vinegar to lesser known items such as suwa.
She also sought the help of her aunt, Marinella Kalaw-Fabella, who showed her how to make the Batangas version of tinumis which has alamang doused in vinegar and bagoong Balayan.
In the end, the chefs were able to produce a very informative piece on kinilaw. It was a proud and fulfilling moment for them as the Madrid audience took an interest in the topic and even took to liking the sinuglaw the chefs had made for tasting demonstration.
“The conference was a good way to introduce our cuisine that’s definitely world-class,” said Ana de Ocampo of Wildflour Bakery + Café, who attended the event. “It was the perfect platform to present our food to the world. I had goosebumps and felt very proud after watching it.”
Nina Puyat, editor of Appetite magazine, said that through Madrid Fusion, the Philippine presentation was able to show how the kinilaw serves as the meeting of the best of the land and the sea in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.”