Many interesting pieces caught my attention while walking around the Art Fair. I found art that had edible elements in them attractive.
I’m talking particularly about the second of a series of eight paintings by artist Carlo Tanseco. The Rizal matchbox-themed paintings honored the lyrics of our national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang.”
The piece “Alab ng puso, sa dibdib mo ay buhay” had a flaming heart, red hot siling labuyo and a locket with a photo of our national heroes. For me, it was a powerful depiction of who I am, a proud Filipino.
Another piece that piqued my interest was Daryl Feril’s “Ato Bala Ang Ginaluto Nila Sang Una” (Remember The Dish That They Would Cook). I was fortunate to have met Daryl at the event. He intimated that his art was inspired by bygone days of shared family meals.
His work is meant to emphasize the importance of food in shaping our identity. He expounded that preserving family recipes, and passing them on, honors one’s ancestry and creates continuity through generations.
One day, Daryl found himself trying to recall a dish his grandmother Laura Feril cooked for him. It was the memory of it that inspired his Art Fair piece. That same thought sparked him to put together 14 dishes, each from a different family in Negros.
“Ato Bala Ang Ginaluto Nila Sang Una” consisted of hand-painted family dishes on secondhand porcelain plates in acrylic and enamel. Along with them were doilies with intricately hand-penned stories about each dish—suspended by woven threads, all housed in a modern curio cabinet.
When I asked Daryl what prompted him to create something so unusual, he said, “Being from Negros, I wanted to focus on something that we’re known for, which is food. Negros, especially Bacolod, is famous for food. We love to cook, eat and entertain. Restaurants are family-owned and are deeply rooted in our culture.”
Feril also wanted to honor heirloom recipes from his region that’s been passed on and preserved through generations.
This undertaking was his way of challenging himself to step out of his comfort zone. He pushed himself to create something he has not done before, something that intimidated and scared him.
He also deemed Art Fair Philippines as the appropriate platform to explore new media. “Fulfilling this goal has been the most gratifying feeling I have experienced,” he said.
One of the dishes he painted was “Kinilaw nga Tanguigue sa Gata ni Papa Jessie.”
When Daryl was young his father would always make kinilaw nga tangigue and sugba nga baboy. It was their Sunday bonding fare—a family activity from start to finish, from buying the ingredients to cooking all the other viands they paired it with. He recalled how his lola would make her special kakanin on those days.
Those were times Daryl will always treasure. Through his art and by cooking food from days of old, he is able to relive his childhood and pay homage to those who have a special place in his heart, who’ve gone before him.
The Kinilaw nga Tanguigue sa Gata is just a regular ceviche; it’s the memory and the process of making it, said Daryl, that makes it special. Papa Jessie’s rendition is a milky take on the kinilaw. Vinegar is used to wash the fish, while coconut milk is used as the base of the sauce. The addition of salted eggs makes it richer and creamier.
All the ingredients that go into the kinilaw are measured according to one’s liking. Adjust as you wish. If you want it sour, add more calamansi, more ginger if you wish … Make the recipe yours.
Kinilaw nga Tanguigue sa Gata ni Papa Jessie
1 kg tanigue/tanguigue fillet and cut into cubes
Fresh ginger, minced finely
Ground black pepper
Fresh coconut milk (not from the can—kakang gata)
Salt to taste
Pour vinegar and salt into the raw fish cubes. Mix and use your hands to massage the fish.
Squeeze out the juice and then transfer fish into a bowl. Squeeze the calamansi juice into the bowl with the raw fish. Squeeze out the juice from the minced ginger into the raw fish and then sprinkle the rest of the ginger onto the fish.
Add chili, onion, a little bit of salt, pepper. Toss until the fish cubes are coated. Let it stand for 5 minutes.
Pour freshly squeezed coconut milk and add the sliced salted egg.
Toss one more time and taste. Add more salt if needed.
Serve with grilled pork and rice. Share and enjoy!