Is shame the reason why Filipino food has not gone mainstream yet?

foodOver the years, there have been many stories about Filipino food becoming the entering the American mainstream.  Efren wrote this one in 2007, and I wrote one in 2012 as people like chef and TV host Andrew Zimmern  were proclaiming Filipino food as the “next big thing.”   In 2015, it still hasn’t taken off in the American mainstream as predicted.  In an article that a friend shared with me, Filipino restaurant owner Nicole Ponseca says that one reason is shame.

Why shame?  

Ponseca explains:

There’s a [Tagalog] word called hiya, which means shame. That’s why [some restaurants] give the “white-man menu” [to customers] because they think they’re not going to like dinuguan, which is a pork blood stew. But why have hiya when the French have boudin noir and the Spanish have morcilla? It is because when you’re colonized over so many years, you don’t value your own culture, even though we have so much pride.

This is not the first time this has been brought up.  Efren also wrote about it here, adding:

because of our relative ease in which Filipinos can integrate themselves into American culture, and the constant brainwashing among many Filipino immigrants that non-Filipinos think our food is weird and inaccessible, this causes many Filipinos not to celebrate our tasty cultural roots to non-Filipinos except for the holy trinity of adobo, pancit and lumpia.

Ponseca says another reason is that Filipinos usually aren’t raised to be entrepreneurs.  We have written about this subject at some length, and I agree with her that it has some impact.  She also adds that her restaurant gets criticism from Filipinos every day.  Crab mentality anyone?

Ponseca runs two Filipino restaurants in New York City, Maharlika and Jeepney.  Since I live in part of Silicon Valley that has a lot of Filipinos, I can choose from a number of well established Filipino restaurants, but these cater almost exclusively to Filipinos.  I do see some mainstream impact through food trucks like Senor Sisig (love them sisig tacos!), which seem to be reaching a wider audience.

(h/t:  Mary)

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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