April 10, 2020

Dr. Orquiza Explains Taste of Control

posted on: Thursday March 5, 2020

How American Colonization Impacted Filipino Cuisine

by: Arianna Weling ’23 A&E Staff

NORA JOHNSON ’20 / THE COWL

In the last 30 days, how many times have you eaten from or seen a Filipino food restaurant? Due to years of control and issues between Americans and Filipinos, specifically about cuisine, there are not many opportunities to delve into this delicious food, as explained during the discussion of Dr. René Alexander Orquiza’s book, Taste of Control: Food and the Filipino Colonial Mentality under American Rule, on Friday, February 28.

Orquiza, a California-native, is both  a French-Filipino cook and an assistant professor of history at Providence College. Taste of Control, Orquiza’s first full-length project, will be published by Rutgers University Press in July. The book examines the problems that surrounded the Filipino community and their cuisine from the Spanish-American War up until Filipino independence. 

Despite the Philippines’ independence, Orquiza illustrates that American dominance left psychological scars and a negative stigma surrounding Filipino cuisine caused by years of American attempts to control diet, nutrition, and commodity consumption. 

Filipino cuisine, as described by Orquiza, consists of food of the indigenous, emphasizing it as “a transnational food,” in its combining of other cultures and reimagining them. Filipino cuisine incorporates and adapts food from around the world, such as China and India.

The most popular Filipino food and, arguably, the national dish, is Adobo. Adobo is a chicken with black peppercorn and bay leaves. Orquiza is such a fan, he has it about twice a week for dinner. 

For the students at the event, food from a popular Filipino restaurant, JnJ Turo Turo, was catered for the event. Famous, delectable Filipino dishes ranging from Adobo, Lumpia, Pancit, and so many other unique dishes were offered. 

As for the desserts, there was a Make Your Own Halu-Halo station. Halu-Halo, meaning “mixed” in Tagalog, is a concoction of crushed ice, condensed milk, and other interchangeable ingredients such as ube halaya (purple yam); sweetened beans, coconut strips, ice cream, and more. 

For many attending, Orquiza’s book talk was their first time trying this unique and mouth-watering cuisine. Nicole Sikora ‘22 stated, “This was my first time having Filipino food, and I had no expectations going into it. Overall, I thought that it was delicious, especially the Lumpia Shanghai.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF BOOKS-A-MILLION

One of the main points Orquiza addressed was the development of Filipino cuisine from their traditional state in the Philippines to the Americanized version. Since the Filipino population in the U.S. is large, and growing rapidly, Filipino food and culture are being integrated into society. 

Through his new book and his discussion, Orquiza has shed light on the struggles Filipinos faced in terms of control of their cuisine. His book notes that for years, Filipino food was undermined and adjusted to fit American standards.

These events are essential in exposing PC students to different cultures, learning about the rich history of other countries, as well as giving them a chance to try new and delicious food. 

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