Back when I was a college student and my allowance was only enough for my gas and snacks. I remember frequenting a carinderia along Gastambide St in Recto. They served really good palabok, dinuguan, lugaw and puto. It was the ultimate in cheap during those time (in the late 80s). You have to wait for like 30 minutes to get a seat, because almost all of the students in the University Belt frequented the carinderia. It was famous for affordable but delicious filipino food. If you are not after the ambiance but for tasty quality pinoy food.
Carinderia, Eatery, kitchenette, or in our younger days Turo-Turo (or Point-Point as the non- funny translation goes) because you literally had to point to your order. In her book, food critic Doreen Fernandez Gamboa said “carinderia” was derived from the word kari or cari, which is the Indian word for “sauce.”
According to Felice Prudente-Sta. Maria, “Indians of Bengal and Tamil origin of the British Army settled in Taytay and Cainta, intermarried and taught dishes using curry.”
Originally called Carinderia Fiesta when it first launched in 2010 through the efforts of Marylindbert International, Inc is described as “the First Ever organized Carinderia Showcase in the Philippines. Buhay Carinderia is a gathering of Carinderia owners, food/ product suppliers, small to medium entrepreneurs, professionals and students, serving as its forum where they can meet face-to-face on common ground to learn from each other and conduct business.”
Actor turned Tourism Promotions Board COO Cesar Montano has been very busy these past couple of months. Montano is putting the spotlight on the country’s culinary scene with Buhay Carinderia-Redefined!
With the new name and “Redefined” tagline, Buhay Carinderia aims to reach out to carinderias all over the Philippines, exactly how and what will happen besides created content from Erwan Heussaff remains to be seen.
Carinderia’s and the affordable home-cooked Filipino specialties they serve have become an integral part of this country’s culinary and social identity. While eating in this humble food stand by the roadside may be considered a plebeian pleasure for some, those who knew better appreciate the fact that there’s more to this enterprise that has uplifted the lives of some 3 million individuals and their families.
Carinderia offers a glimpse into Filipino’s culture and customs—they are the closest to what one gets at Filipino homes, where great recipes are handed down through generations.
“Generous portions, Affordable prices, short waits, and sumptuous dishes. Is it any wonder that carinderias are continuously growing everywhere in the country?” says Linda Legaspi of Marylindbert International, Inc. who shares that on the 6th staging of the event, “Buhay Carinderia… Redefined” will be more expansive in scope.
Supported for the first time by the Tourism Promotions Board of the Department of Tourism, as its Sole Presentor, this year’s event is scheduled to scour the whole country in search for the best of the best in our culinary scene.
First to be visited will be the areas of Northern Luzon—15 provinces that comprise Regions 1 and 2 as well as the Cordillera Administrative Region. “From these cities and towns we will identify the best dishes, the individuals that prepared them, and the carinderias where they work for,” relates Legaspi.
Eventually these local culinary experts will gather at Vigan Convention Center from June 28 to 29 where they will not only share their talent to everyone but also interact with chosen students of the area—through mentoring partnership—so they could also pass on their skills and experiences. The respective region’s best practices will be shared as well as discussions on availability of local ingredients. It is likewise an opportunity for cross selling of produce and talents.
“During this two-day exposition to showcase all the surrounding provinces’ culinary gems, we will also be searching for young individuals who will become our Philippine Tourism Millennial Ambassadors. They should be able to enlighten everyone of their town’s (or city’s) deep and multicultural food history,” says Legaspi.
This same framework will be followed as “Buhay Carinderia… Redefined” explores Central Luzon (particularly Pampanga, regarded as one of the culinary capitals of the Philippines) area, the Bicol region, the Visayas region (Regions 6, 7 and 8) and finally, the Mindanao region (Regions 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13). Like what will happen in Vigan, there will also be a culminating 2-day event in San Fernando, Pampanga; in Naga; in Cebu; and finally in Davao City.
“To cap off this nine-month-long culinary journey all over the Philippines, ‘Buhay Carinderia… Redefined’ will stage its biggest culinary exposition in November where all the regional bests under one roof will be showcased.
There will be exchange of knowledge and with the experts and most successful personalities we will invite, we will be honing if not refine previously undiscovered talents from the audience,” believes Legaspi.
She explains that as its proponent, “Buhay Carinderia… Redefined” is convinced that food plays a key part of all cultures, a major element of global intangible heritage and an increasingly important attraction for tourists.
“The linkages between food and tourism also provide a platform for national but also regional economic development. These days anyone could notice the focus of many tourists has changed from the classic ‘must see’ physical sights such as natural wonders or monuments towards a ‘must-experience’ imperative to consume intangible expressions of culture.”
Legaspi explains that there’s a real pride in each of the town or city visited. “Not only of the community’s rich agricultural heritage, but of the many recipes linked to it. And based on what we have seen so far, with the help of the Tourism Promotions Board and the city’s or town’s ongoing appetite for celebrating its culinary roots, the future is bound to be just as delicious.”