Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture

Doreen G. Fernandez

Book cover

This book is HARD. TO. FIND. It’s out of print and the going rate for used copies online seems to be about $200! I was luckily able to get it on inter-library loan.

The volume is basically a collection of magazine columns that Fernandez wrote, I think mostly during the 1980s, with a couple of more academic articles mixed in. Like any collection-based work, it has its higher and lower points. For me, it was extremely interesting to read a Filipina writing about food for Filipina/os rather than for Americans or a global audience. Compare this book, for example, to the recent “I Am A Filipino” by Nicole Ponseca. The latter, while also great and worthwhile, spends its time covering the basics and thus doesn’t dive deep on anything. In “Tikim,” on the other hand, Fernandez assumes that the reader is generally conversant in Filipino food, meaning that she can go into more depth on things such as different varieties of shrimp found throughout the archipelago or traditional cooking pots. There is also a decent amount of untranslated Tagalog and Spanish (the latter from old cookbooks), which could be difficult for me at times. At its best, “Tikim” reminded me of Tamar Adler’s food writing, touching both on the food itself and the role it plays in people’s lives. Unfortunately, I can also see the connection to why it is out of print in the U.S.–the market for people looking for a non-introductory book on Filipino food must be pretty small! But for those in that market, it’s definitely worth picking up if you can borrow it or find it at a decent price.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars