Bale Dutung, House of Wood.
Villa Gloria Subdivision,
Angeles City, Pampanga

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Linamnam - Eating One's Way Around the Philippines
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“A foodie couple eats their way around the Philippines in search of the proverbial Holy Grail. In this culinary travel guide book, not only do they lead the reader to the best eats every region has to offer, scouring the length and breadth of the archipelago, but they also learn the why’s and how’s of what makes each dish unique and outstanding in its own right. As staunch keepers of the flame of traditional Philippine cuisine (albeit leaning to Pampangan), the couple discovers the sheer variety and intricacies of this multi-layered cuisine, making it easier for the uninitiated to understand what makes the Filipino eat what he eats, and debunking the pronouncements of armchair pundits that Filipino cuisine is all brown, oily, and unappetizing. Indeed, there's more to it than the adobo, pancit, and lumpia.”

         In the vastness of our archipelago, with so many diverse cultures and cuisines, we can only conclude that our country is not only truly one of the most beautiful countries because of its natural resources, but it is also endowed with some of the warmest, most hospitable, happiest people on the planet, having one of the most malinamnam cuisines there is. It is celebratory food meant to be shared.

The Philippines holds a unique position as the only country in Asia influenced by both sides of the Pacific — from its neighbors in the region of Malaysia and Indonesia, including China and India, and Mexico during the two and a half centuries when the Galleon Trade flourished. Add to the cooking pot Spain and the United States, and you have a vibrant mix of all these cultures, which, rather than confusing, gives modern-day Filipinos a particular personality that is comfortable with himself and, at the same time, at home with the rest of the world.

Linamnam Book


Cebu is the lechon or roast pig capital of the country. Even the legendary Anthony Bourdain  was smitten.


Ilocano food, is more on the bitter taste as ilocanos favour the bitter flavour.  The best example for this taste preference is in their most popular soup called papaitan which is goat innards cooked with bile.  Must try Ilocano specialties are empanada and pinakbet.


Kare Kareng Lamng Dagat

  Pampanga, the province where claude and maryanntayag are from  is known for its rich flavors in cooking and in their desserts.  Often described as the culinary capital of the country where all women are expected to be good cooks.  Claude’s famous house cum strictly by reservation restaurant, Bale Dutung  is also in Pampanga.  Their famous dishes are their lechon five ways and the karekaredagat. (seafood in peanut and coconut milk sauce)  
  In Capiz, one should not leave without tasting the oysters which are best in capiz because of the capiz water   Claude talaba   
  inasal linamnam book   

Iloilo’s most famous dish is their chicken inasal, that is chicken barbeque marinated in lemon grass and achuete (annatto seeds)


What They Say

Tamales Bale dutung
  "Claude Tayag is the true master and greatest spokesman for Pampangan cuisine. He introduced to me to whole new worlds of flavor." – Anthony Bourdain, chef, international best-selling author, and TV personality  
  “The cuisine of the Philippines turned out to be a huge surprise. A meal prepared for me by artist and gourmand Claude Tayag, in Pampanga now rates as the best of my entire life. In particular was a seafood kare-kare stew made with prawns whose heads you ripped off to allow the fat to dribble into the sauce.”   – Simon Majumbar, author, Eat My Globe, about the Londoner who travelled to 30 countries in 12 months to “go everywhere and eat everything”    
  Siniglao-Cagayan de Oro 


”Claude and Mary Ann opened my eyes (and belly) to the wonders of Filipino food. I’m off to spread the word and can’t wait to come back.” -  Tom Parker Bowles, British food writer, food editor at Esquire magazine U.K.  
  “An iconic artist like Claude Tayag delivers with all the usual mediums available. But now, this genius paints with flavors, and to have him offer up his passion for food and culture through this food guide is groundbreaking. I am proud to know an artist who executes his palette for the palate.”   - KF Seetoh, founder, Makansutra Asian Food Guide.    




Word of mouth is the way one finds good places to eat around the Philippines, it is also the way one is warned about bad ones. Mary Ann and Claude provide a refreshing foil to the?praise releases? that clutter newspapers and magazines. Checking out everything from fine-dining restaurants aspiring for a Michelin star to hole-in-the-wall market-side carinderias Mary Ann and Claude give us more than a food guide by sharing all the other experiences that accompanied their meals. Linamnam fills in the gap left by the pioneering Lasa by the late Doreen G. Fernandez and Edilberto Alegre it should be on every foodies bookshelf and hopefully on an i-pad or cellphone too for easy reference out of town. – Ambeth R. Ocampo, popular Philippine columnist, historian.


Full color, 320 pp. Anvil Publishing.
Available at National Book Stores and Powerbooks nationwide. PhP 395.00


Adobo is the most popular Filipino dish and even considered as the National dish. But everyone claims that their adobo is the best. Example, is it with or without soy sauce? I put soy sauce while Mary Ann insists the correct way is no soy sauce but browning the meat on the pan from its pork fat.  Does it really matter? I think the root cause of all this “misunderstanding” is our usage of the term “adobo”. We all talk about it but we actually have different images in our minds. Adobo is a cooking technique, rather than a singular recipe or dish. We may have borrowed the term from the Spaniards and Mexicans, but that’s where the similarity ends. In the Filipino context, adobo generally refers to the chicken/pork stew simmered in vinegar and garlic. It is perhaps the country’s most popular dish, spawning countless variants that it is inaccurate to call it as a singular dish. To say there are 7,100 recipes of our adobo is an understatement – there are as many kinds of adobo as there are households. Treating adodo as a cooking technique will give us a better understanding of its nature. It is the braising of any meat (chicken, pork, beef, quail, duck, venison, seafood, balut, etc.) or vegetable (kangkong, okra, mushrooms, peanuts, etc.) in vinegar, garlic, black peppercorn and bay leaf, with regional variations or personal preferences of adding soy sauce (from the Chinese), atsuete (Mexican achiote), onion, coconut cream, lemongrass or turmeric. It can be made like a saucy stew, or thickened with mashed chicken liver, or fried to a crisp, or the cooked adobo meat pulled apart to be deep fried into crispy flakes. It is this versatility that makes it the most popular and well-loved Filipino comfort food.

Another fascinating dish is the pancit. Where did the word come from, and the place where it was originally served, the panciteria? True, its origins may have been Chinese, but us Filipinos have taken to it like our own and given birth to a wide spectrum of malinamnam noodle dishes. But wait again, which pancit? Have you ever wondered why miki is favored up north in the Ilocos region? Or Batil Patong in Tuguegarao, but just some 20 kms to its south is Pancit Cabagan?  While in Pampanga it’s Pancit palabok, a.k.a. Pancit luglog; but a bit further south is Pancit Malabon. But for Manileños it is mami, which is always paired with siopao. Going further south, it is Pancit Grade 1 in Sta. Rosa, Laguna; while Lomi is favored in Lipa City; Habhab in Lucban, Quezon; Kinalas in Naga City, and Batchoy in Iloilo City.

Of all the basic tastes, it is sourness that is most dominant in Philippine cuisine. With vinegar as one of the most indispensable ingredients in the Filipino kitchen, it has been in use for centuries not just for seasoning but also as a natural preservative. In the pre-refrigeration era, it was common practice to cook with vinegar, which would prolong the dish’s shelf life without refrigeration, most especially with our hot tropical climate. It is also widely used as a marinade or brine, pickling vegetables and fruits (i.e. achara and burong mangga), and is the much-favored dipping sauce throughout the length and breadth of the archipelago.

But up north in the Ilocos region, it is the bitter and salty tastes that are most sought after, while sweet and sour for the Pampangos, the mouth-puckering sour for the Tagalogs, and the richness of gata and hot chili in Bicol?  Down south in the Visayas, it is the simple basic cooking techniques of sugba/tola/kilaw, or SU-TO-KIL for short, that draw out the natural sweetness of its bounties from the sea. It is the most basic form cooking, but definitely not plain tasting, mind you. After all, it is surrounded by one of the richest fishing grounds in the archipelago, and it would be almost criminal to use any spice to mask the natural flavors of the freshest seafood there is. And, what it is with pryd chicken and Filipinos? Not to mention the sweet banana ketchup and the equally sweet spaghetti with red hotdog.

Speaking of sawsawan, where can one have an infinite myriad of dipping sauces to go with one’s meal? Like in most Asian cuisines, sawsawan is provided at every dining table in the Philippines, whether at home or in commercial establishments. Doreen Fernandez ascribes it to a desire to fine-tune the taste of the dish to the preference of the individual diner, unlike in western cooking where there’s the ego of the chef to contend with (thank God for our great unnamed kusineros). Most common sawsawan on the Pinoy dining table are patis (fish sauce), toyo (soy sauce) and bagoong (salt-fermented fish or shrimp paste), or any of the three mixed with kalamansi or vinegar and spiked with chili. The sweet banana ketchup and liver sauce are fast becoming staples, as well. Also popular are the side dishes with any of the following combinations: chopped tomato, onion, green mango, salted duck egg, grilled eggplant, fresh mustard leaves, kamias, radish, cilantro, and chili, as well as lató (seaweed), atsara (from the Indian achar, pickled papaya and other veggies), burong manga (pickled mango), and burong isda (salt fermented rice with fish). These quasi-salads go well with any fried or grilled meat and fish. Isn’t our sawsawan more fun than the standard salt and pepper?  Filipinos are the most democratic when it comes to eating their food.  we adjust practically almost everything to suit our taste making probably other nationalities wonder if we have no high regard for our cooks. Of course we love our cooks; we are just very understanding people.

In our book Linamnam, Mary Ann and I probed the origins of such iconic dishes like Pampanga’s sisig, Ilocos empanada, Batangas bulalo, Lipa City’s lomi, Bicol express, Iloilo’s batchoy, Manila’s steak ala pobre and salpicao, to name a few.  It all boils down to one person “inventing” it, whether intentionally or accidentally. Then it catches on and everybody copies it within the clan, the community, the province, then the whole country, becoming part of the national “tradition” over time. But the question remains: How many years or even generations must a dish need to qualify as traditional and authentic?

The book Linamnam doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but it will definitely lead the reader find out for himself the best eats every region has to offer, and also the why’s and how’s of what makes each dish unique and outstanding in its own right. Along the way, you’d discover the sheer variety and intricacies of our multi-layered cuisine, making it easier for the uninitiated to understand what makes the Filipino eat what he eats, and debunking the pronouncements of armchair pundits that Filipino cuisine is all brown, oily, and unappetizing.  As they say, variety is the spice of life. With such wonderful regional cuisines having an endless variety of tastes, flavors and all its nuances, and often full of surprises, isn’t it adventurously more fun having such diverse cuisine?

This four year long journey made us realize the richness of our cuisine, or should I say the cuisines of the Philippines, that, with all its regional differences, it is our common love of malinamnam food that binds us together. It is DEFINITELY more fun eating in the Philippines, authentic or not.