A Much Appreciated Coffee Table Book

Manila Bulletin, October 25, 2006 | Go to article overview

A Much Appreciated Coffee Table Book


Byline: Florangel Rosario Braid

FELICE Prudente-Sta. Maria is perhaps one of the most erudite and prolific cultural specialists in the country today. Her contribution to the arts, culture and the social and human sciences has won her several awards including the Manila Critics Circle National Book Award, the Gintong Aklat Award, and a Ceres Alabado Award for Outstanding Literature for Children. She was also in the prestigious roster of the SEA Write Award for ASEAN writers.

Last week, her latest, a coffee table book entitled "The Governor-General's Kitchen, Philippine Culinary Vignettes and Period Recipes" (1521-1935) was launched by Anvil Publishing Inc., in cooperation with the Department of Tourism and Ginebra San Miguel. According to the Introduction, it had taken 20 years to write the book. It began as a hobby -- collecting vignettes from primary and secondary sources related to food -- from its sourcing and production to its consumption and etiquette. There was no critical methodology or plan for assessing or collecting the stories or data, nor of writing a history. The material eventually clustered around themes that may help historians and hobbyists when they describe the evolution of Philippine food and foodways.

The book is a "first" in the sense that it traces food origins from the anthropological, sociological, and historical perspectives.

I have known Felice for sometime now, having worked with her as fellow commissioner of both the Unesco and the National Centennial Commission.We planned and implemented joint projects -- conferences, workshops, and book publications. Most of the projects were primarily aimed at raising the level of consciousness of social science teachers, cultural workers, book publishers, and writers by focusing on the assessment of new methodologies of teaching, writing, and learning appropriate to our culture and values. Felice' success can be partly attributed to her innate talent of identifying existing opportunities by which her vision could become a reality.

The main challenge in this latest project is that it "raises culinary questions that would require multidisciplinary research of food history in the realms of education, communications, enterprise and labor, flora and fauna, health and nutrition, home life, law, philosophy, religion, science and technology" true enough, there are enough research questions in this 320-page volume that could serve to motivate scholars from various disciplines. …

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A Much Appreciated Coffee Table Book
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