Nalzaro: Standardizing native dishes

·4 min read

Instead of focusing on its true mandate on consumer protection, price watch on basic and essential commodities and running after those involved in selling substandard and fake items and promotional scams, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has diverted its function to standardizing popular native dishes for international promotion.

Can we standardize taste? It is like asking can we legislate love and affection? The agency has created a technical committee on Filipino dishes that will develop Philippine National Standards when it comes to cooking adobo, sinigang, sisig, lechon and other popular Filipino dishes.

The DTI said the committee began setting the standards for cooking adobo referring mainly to “Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine” on how to prepare and cook Filipino dishes. The agency said the co-mmittee was formed to standardize the cooking technique of adobo, amid various cooking methods published online by food writers, bloggers, vloggers. They aim to determine the common denominator among all the known ways of cooking it to help preserve the country’s cultural identity despite the variations made to it.

What is the main function of the DTI? It is responsible for realizing the country’s goal of having a globally competitive and innovative industries and services sector that contributes to growth and generates employment. It was officially organized on June 2, 1975 through Presidential Decree (PD) 721 to pursue efforts of the government toward strengthening socio-economic development of the country, particularly in the area of commercial activities.

It is a prime mover of consumer welfare. It is committed to protecting the rights and interests of consumers, and it is also committed to developing policies and programs aimed at sustaining the growth and development of the country’s economy. It is tasked to oversee the effective implementation and enforcement of trade regulations and fair trade laws.

It provides consumer protection through consumer education and information dissemination programs. Information materials such as consumer alerts, tips and advisories are regularly released and updated. It also provides a mechanism for the speedy resolution of consumer complaints and helps strengthen and develop consumer organizations.

With its new direction, I don’t know what’s happening to this agency? Maybe they have no more work, and that is why it’s focusing on nonsense matters. How can it standardize dishes and taste? We are a nation of different ethnic groups and regional tribes and each region has different customs, traditions and food preparation and taste. What are the best, popular and delicious dishes in Metro Manila or in Luzon may not be what is preferred by people in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Preparing local dishes is not like preparing food in a fast food chain that is standardized. Every cook has his unique technique in cooking even if he uses the same ingredients. Standardized recipes produce a consistent quality and yield every time when the exact procedures, equipment and ingredients are used and help ensure that the best possible food items are produced every time. The advantages of standardization to a food service include consistency in food preparation.

In the case of lechon (roasted pig), for instance, why do the Manila people like Cebu lechon better than their own lechon? It’s because of our style in cooking and the ingredients used by our lechoneros. Maybe the Manila lechoneros can adopt our style and use the same ingredients, but can we expect the same taste? With “pochero,” (bulalo in Tagalog), we have a different style of cooking it from the Manila people and why is their “sinigang” more delicious than our sinigang here? Because the Tagalogs prefer it more “maasim (sour).”

For the Ilonggos, when they prepare “humba (braised pork),” they mix it with jackfruit, but Cebuanos won’t like it.

After all, it’s really the decision of the person cooking to make the dish his own way, apart from what was originally written in a recipe or one goes with one’s gut and does something unique and adds or removes ingredients. That ingredient may make it taste familiar, yet have a flavor that changes the dish. For me, as a consumer and end user, what is important is the taste and satisfaction regardless of how it was cooked. Ang importante lami, satisfied ug busog ka.

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