Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture


Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture by Doreen G. Fernandez is a groundbreaking work that introduces readers to the wondrous history of Filipino foodways. First published by Anvil in 1994, Tikim explores the local and global nuances of Philippine cuisine through its people, places, feasts, and flavors.

Doreen Gamboa Fernandez (1934–2002) was a cultural historian, professor, author, and columnist. Her food writing educated and inspired generations of chefs and food enthusiasts in the Philippines and throughout the world. This Brill volume honors and preserves Fernandez’s legacy with a reprinting of Tikim, a foreword by chef and educator Aileen Suzara, and an editor’s preface by historian Catherine Ceniza Choy.

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Doreen Gamboa Fernandez (1934–2002) was a cultural historian, professor, writer, and columnist. She received her Ph.D. in Literature (1976) from Ateneo de Manila University. She is best known for her writing on Filipino food and the theater arts. Catherine Ceniza Choy, Ph.D. (1998), UCLA, is Professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. She is the author of Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History and co-editor of the Brill book series Gendering the Trans-Pacific World. Aileen Suzara, MPH (2015), UC Berkeley, is a chef and educator dedicated to creating healthy and sustainable food systems. Her work celebrates the intersections of social justice, farming, health and cultural revitalization, with an emphasis on the Filipino American diaspora.
"Tikim as tikman (verb) means to taste food or to try anything. Doreen Fernandez's literary essays on Philippine culinary and alimentary traditions are rightly fabled for their conjugations of tasting and trying in dazzling verbal arabesques. As assays at descriptions and critiques of Philippine cultural formations (assay is archaic form of 'essay') through sensorial samplings of Philippine cuisines, they themselves powerfully incarnate what Benedict Anderson once said of Philippine cultures as constituting ‘a pure mix’!"
—Oscar V. Campomanes, Department of English, Ateneo de Manila

"Doreen Fernandez was undisputedly one of the best storytellers of our lifetime of what Filipinos eat in their home country. Upon first reading of her essays, one gets introduced to the plot quickly and leaves you savoring every word she writes with meticulous efficiency to uncover layered meanings of culture that form the most basic theoretical foundation in understanding any cuisine. Enjoy the stories that fill these pages, read them many times and one day you will own the knowledge she wanted to share with us."
—Amy Besa, Co-Author of Memories of Philippine Kitchens: Stories and Recipes from Far and Near

"When their safe houses in Manila were no longer safe, the rebels took shelter at the airy bungalow of Doreen Gamboa Fernandez, a sugar planter’s daughter turned literature professor and food writer. (...) Then, while her guests recuperated by the pool in the cool shadow of a great acacia, she retreated to her desk and resumed the task of documenting the indigenous cooking traditions — scorned and ignored during centuries of colonialism — of an archipelago spanning more than 7,000 islands and nearly 200 languages. (...) Hers was a quiet act of subversion. She revolutionized Filipino food simply by treating it as what it is: a cuisine."
Ligaya Mishan, The New York Times, July 30, 2019

"[T]his presents the opportunity to reexamine her work in the context of pressing issues today: disappearing species, the politics of foodways, street vendor economy, or even gender sensitivity, among others, all of which find space in 'Tikim.' (...) Fernandez did all of us a great service — by working hard to explore the multiple layers of Philippine food, culture, and history, she best explained what we mean by food that is ours. By infusing delight and rigor in her writing, she has inspired countless others to do the same. Her invaluable gift is to articulate our collective conscience about food, identity, representation, and power. It is up to us to listen to that conscience. Perhaps my only complaint now is how she has so inaptly titled her book 'Tikim.' When it comes to ingesting food and culture, Fernandez clearly gave us more than just a taste. She gave us a fierce, ravenous appetite."
Anna Bueno, CNN Philippines, January 10, 2020

"To learn about French food, one reads Julia Child; Italian food, Marcella Hazan; Indian food, Madhur Jaffrey. To understand Filipino food, one should read Doreen Fernandez, whose work can enlighten ancestral history for the diaspora and explain the foundations of the cuisine for readers outside it."
Bettina Makalintal, VICE, October 30, 2020
Editor’s Preface

Tikim: Just a Taste

Introduction: Writing about Food: Savor the Word, Swallow the World

1 Food and Flavors
 1 Balut to Barbecue: Philippine Street Food
 2 Here’s to Spirited Holidays
 3 Breaking the Fast
 4 Sukang Paombong
 5 Balut, Kamaru, Sawa: What Exotica Do You Eat?
 6 The Lumpia of Silay
 7 Si Sugpo: Prawns in Philippine Lore and Culture
 8 Ang Mahiwagang Nilaga
 9 The Noodles of Our (Long) Lives
 10 The Original Pancit Lucban
 11 The Vanishing Scene
 12 New Ways with Old Dishes
 13 Sa Banwa sang Dulce: the Flavors of Negros
 14 A Durian Experience
 15 Mangoes and Maytime
 16 Salty and Sour, Bitter and Sweet: Philippine Flavorings

2 People and Places
 1 Inside Information: a Tribute to Mothers
 2 On Unperceived Excellences
 3 Men in the Kitchen
 4 Alta Cocina Filipina: Has It Arrived?
 5 Kinilaw Artistry in Old Sagay
 6 She Cuts Pastillas Wrappers
 7 The Sweet Taste of Success
 8 The Filipino Kitchen
 9 Restaurant of Yesteryears
 10 The Regional Food Adventure
 11 What’s Cooking?

3 Books and Other Feasts
 1 Food in Philippine Literature
 2 A Cookbook and a Billiard Table
 3 Pasteleria at Reposteria, 1919
 4 Dream Food
 5 Mother Cuisine
 6 Contrary Thoughts for Valentine’s Day
 7 My Personal, Communal Christmas
 8 Noche Buena
 9 The Festive Table
 10 Angono, San Clemente, Giants and Water Pistols
 11 Silay, Zarzuelas, and Remembering the Revolution
 12 A Town Bejewelled: Philippine Food Art

4 Food in Philippine History
 1 The Flavors of Mexico in Philippine Food and Culture
 2 A Conversation with Fray Juan de Oliver on Drinking and Drunkenness
 3 Beyond Sans Rival: Exploring the French Influence on Philippine Gastronomy
 4 Colonizing the Cuisine: the Politics of Philippine Foodways
All interested in food studies, Philippine Studies, Southeast Asian Studies, Asian American and Asian diaspora studies, cultural history, and gender and women’s studies.
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