April is for celebrating the ‘Filipino Food Month’

Lugaw Is Essential

by Mildred German 

As Filipino food shapes the identities of many of our communities, including in the diaspora, the Filipino Food Month aims to promote and preserve the Philippine’s culinary heritage and traditions.

Founded on April 13, 2018, the Filipino Food Month was declared after Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed the Presidential Proclamation No. 469. Since, various groups and institutions have been showcasing Filipino food and cooking in and outside of the Philippines for this annual celebration that lasts for a whole month.

Amidst the pandemic, the Filipino Food Month is celebrated in the Philippines via online activities. However, with the country’s dire state amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘enhanced community quarantine’ (ECQ) protocols have been implemented and is in force until April 4. During this period, many communities’ access to food have been affected as the government hired ECQ enforcers to police unnecessary travels, to implement the curfews, and to nab violators.

Thus, the recent news of a food delivery person who was barred from giving a customer “lugaw” has shed light on the ongoing police brutality and human rights concerns in the country. The incident’s viral video led to the creation of the “Lugaw Is Essential’ hashtag to highlight the strict quarantine protocols.

Yesterday, Malacanang clarified that “lugaw” or porridge is an essential good and that food delivery services are not restricted by the curfew and are allowed to operate beyond curfew hours during the ECQ at the National Capital Region.

WHAT IS LUGAW?

“Lugaw” (also spelled lugao) or rice porridge is a popular Filipino soup that is prepared from boiling rice with plenty of water. Commonly prepared as ‘kaldo’ (derived from the Spanish caldo) by adding sauteed aromatics such as garlic, onions, and ginger.

A favourite recipe is the Aroskaldo (Arroz Caldo) which has rice and chicken, and condiments such as calamansi (jungle citrus), patis (fish sauce), hard-boiled egg, scallions, and roasted garlic flakes. In other versions, kasubha (safflower) is added for the porridge’s golden colour.

Another version of lugaw that is famous is the ‘goto’. The ‘goto’ recipe calls for simmered tripe, intestine, gizzard, and more other innards all mixed in a nicely infused kaldo.

Lugaw includes both savory and sweet. An example of sweet lugaw is “Binignit”, a Visayan dessert soup made with ‘gata’ (coconut milk) and various slices of root crops such as sweet potato, taro, and ube. Sago (tapioca pearls) are also added.

Another common Filipino dessert soup is the “Tinutong” (Mungbean Rice Porridge). Its name is derived from its cooking process of dry roasting the ‘monggo’ (mungbean) and then pounded, and boiled with rice and coconut milk.

Champorado is also another favourite Filipino rice porridge recipe. The rice is boiled and chocolate or cocoa powder is added. It is then served with powdered, condensed, or evaporated milk and with salted fish. This is a very tasty merienda or snack. Another version is replacing chocolate with ube.

FOOD IS CULTURAL

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has regarded lugaw as a symbol of the Philippines Rich culture. Also, the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) has regarded lugaw as “one of the earliest documented food of our ancestors.” https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1413798/lugaw-an-essential-in-all-its-many-forms

Lugaw is widely regarded as comfort food in the Philippines, and is truly essential because it is also the much-loved dish served to children, elderly, the hungry, and the sick. The warm soup is usually served too in community gatherings, and notably in times of crises and natural disasters during relief efforts. This traditional food has been part of our culture and survival.

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