If food is nourishment for the body, then art is nourishment for the soul,” the late art patron and writer Odette Alcantara once told her granddaughter, art curator Sarah Alcantara.
And so it was last Monday at the opening of “Patikim! The Art of Filipino Hospitality,” an exhibit that combines artworks with food in exploring the richness and roots of Filipino cuisine, agriculture and the visual arts.
“Patikim” is a partnership between Mama Sita Foundation and the Art Circle Gallery. The exhibit will benefit a scholarship program for aspiring chefs—free tuition to Filipino cuisine classes at the Academy of Culinary Education in California, courtesy of school owner chef Cecilia de Castro.
Among the artists who donated works for the exhibit is Manny Baldemor.
Mama Sita Foundation president Clara Reyes Lapus talked about problems besetting the Filipino food industry. One is the law requiring all salt made in the Philippines should be iodized. As a result, Filipino food products with salt have become unacceptable in many countries and can’t be exported, Lapus lamented.
Anthropologist Michelle Morales has discovered the tedious process of manufacturing salt and the questionable part of having to iodize it. Natural salt comes from the sea and already contains some amount of iodine.
Adding a lighter touch to the opening ceremonies was a live musical performance by guitarist Emiliano de los Santos and singer Fatima Claire Espiritu. Appropriately, their opening number was “Sa Kabukiran,” a paean to the joys of nature.
Books on sale
To augment the exhibit, culinary books were for sale, notably Anvil Publishing House’s “Let’s Cook with Nora,” a reedited version of Nora Daza’s classic cookbook, done by her daughter Nina Daza-Puyat. And since food is ultimately tied up with economics, there was the book “Momentum, Economic Reforms for Sustaining Growth.”
An event called “Patikim” must naturally serve food, and Mama Sita lived up to expectations. Prepared by Dads Buffet, the dishes contained some of the most popular of Mama Sita’s products: beef caldereta using Mama Sita’s caldereta mix, crispy kangkong with a creamy dip made with Mama Sita’s adobo mix, boneless chicken inasal on skewers, and freshly cooked champorado.
Here’s Mama Sita’s recipe for the crispy kangkong with adobo dip. You may also serve it with Mama Sita’s coconut nectar vinegar.
1 bunch spinach, alternative is kangkong, 25-30 stems or about 235 g
¼ c all-purpose flour
¼ c cornstarch
Pinch of salt
Pinch of Pepper
6 tbsp water
2 cups cooking oil
Remove the leaves from the spinach/kangkong. Wash the leaves well and let dry. In a clean container, mix flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Slowly pour in the water and mix well until smooth (no lumps).
Heat two inches of oil in a frying pan. Dip the leaves in the flour mixture. Fry the leaves, putting them one by one, in the hot oil so they don’t stick. Remove the leaves before they turn toasty and let the oil drip into a pan (or let them dry on absorbent paper or paper towels). You may have to do this in batches.
Serve with Mama Sita’s coconut nectar vinegar or with Mama Sita Adobo dip (recipe follows).
1½ tbsp Mama Sita’s Adobo Mix
1 c sour cream
Whisk together adobo mix and sour cream. Chill before serving.
“Patikim! The Art of Filipino Hospitality” runs till Dec. 19, Art Center, 4/L, SM Megamall Bldg. A, Mandaluyong.