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The Kapangpangans are the best cooks in the Philippines, in my opinion.

But I may be biased, having grown up eating my father's cooking. :D

Thank you for this gorgeous post. It makes me want to visit.


you should go to Ilo-ilo & Bacolod, another culinary region in the philippines


This magnificent kitchen also inspired that masterpiece of a photograph by the great Neal Oshima, printed alongside the Marc Medina essay in the Besa/Dorotan Memories of Philippine Kitchens.

The picture has a Las Meninas-like sense of depth; as in the Velasquez, soft light seems to come from a specific window in the far background, but it is diffused everywhere. Withthe graceful attention of a cat alert to potential prey, one of the cooks (one of Lucia's dauthers-in-law?) is captured in mid-spring, while tending to the fire.

I don't have the book with me at the moment, but I remember a liminal space in which a young boy stands lost in reverie. Does the boy represent a young Marc Medina ;0) , lost in his Proustian memories of Philippine kitchens?

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Amazing post. I'm always a little ashamed of my lack of skill and patience when I watch my neighbours turn out a six course meal on little more than a pair of wood-fired burners.

The more that I cook (and write about it) the more that I realise that I really lust after pure functionality when it comes to kitchens, much more than overdesign. There is a reason that the heart of every good house party is in the kitchen, other than proximity to the beer fridge.

The only thing that I really miss in my kitchen in Cambodia is natural light and a real oven (I've got a pair of gas burners which is standard for richer Cambodians/Westerners, and a "turbo oven" which is about as trustworthy as cooking with a hairdryer).


Beautiful pictures! Reminded me a lot of my late grandpa's kitchen, smaller and partially outdoors but equipped with the same type of pots and cooking tools. The bringhe looks utterly delicious!


I lust after the bringhe, the image of the crusty rice soaked up of two rounds of coconut milk, chicken, banana leaves and spices. Wait a minute that sounds like a combination of chicken rice, nasi lemak and nasi minyak, oh just kill me already!



Bringhe is often described or represented as "Filipino paella". But the dish has never seemed even remotely Valencian to me. Intead, I think that it should be seen as one in the large family of Southeast Asian rice dishes that would include-yes, nasi lemak, nasi kuning etc etc



The is such a fantastic post, taking us right into the kitchen... I wanted to be there, to hear the stories, to watch the cooks. You and David are so blessed to be able to see and experience these things. Thanks for sharing it with us.

I remember roaring fire-sides and large blackend and well-seasoned pots from visiting the rural parts of Guyana... such nostalgia.


Sounds like a wonderful, functioning kitchen, rich in character and stories. I can almost smell the layers of garlic, fish, fat and other spices. So different from today's modern, sanitary almost clinical kitchens.



You write like a poet and Dave's photography is superb.

Salamat :)


Reminds me of that phrase..."if only these walls could talk...". Thank you Robyn, Dave and Marc, I think they just did.


Amazingly written and beautiful photography. Lovely. Such as throw back to when, cooking was truly a labour of love.


Wonderful story and photography: the idea of a century or more of food cooked in that kitchen is incredibly evocative.


It's great to know that you are a convert to Philippine cuisine. It's the least featured among southeast Asian cuisines, if at all. You write very well and I read with interest about bringhe. Kapampangans are known to cook well and you are lucky to have a Kapampangan friend!


You're back!!! As usual, an excellent post. Love the little stories, the narrative, the pix, the observations, the people - lives made vivid. The kitchen reminds me of the lead character's kitchen in Eat Drink Man Woman.


I just found your site through hopping around food blogs here in Manila. I'm enjoying the posts about the Philippines, and the rest of Asia. That is indeed, one amazing kitchen!
Hope you continue your food adventure throughout the region.


How beautiful. Thank you.


Thanks so very much for taking your time to create this very useful and informative site.e


Thank for making this valuable information available to the public.e

lou abriol santos

hey there marc, i remember growing up as a child, i used to watch and play tennis on saturday afternoons after your dad and the rest of the crew finished playing. i also remember i was so excited hanging out at the so called "white house". aling lucia was the best cook ever!!! i tried her cooking every fiesta and it is excellent. now im in california, i really miss arayat.


Hi Marc,

We are living here in the state now. I was surprised to see this picture online. My grandma used to cook in this kitchen and my aunt visited this Arayat house of yours, the Medina house in Arayat. In fact, we recognized the female picture online, but I am not going to mention her name public online. It was a picture when she was still young so we were able to recognize her easily. My uncle and aunt here recognized her, including myself because during Xmas season we go to the other house of your father in Manila for yearly "pamasko", which were handed to us in cash. I won't mention names here...I bought the book Memories of Philippine Kitchen


Re my other comment above. The picture I was referring to we saw was the one behind the patron saint. I am the "sese" of my grandma and if you mention this to her she can probably remember me many years ago. I used to play with her kids my age. I have never done this blog before and I feel awful writing publicly online like this. Warm regards to your Dad and the whole Medina family whom we know very very well. We love the ensaimada.

marcos calo medina

hello marilyn,

i'd like to hear more of your stories about the old house and our family. i can't quite picture you or any of your relatives since you didn't give out any names!

but please email me more info, if you can. i look forward to swapping stories!

my email is [email protected]

best regards,

Lisa Santos

Hey Marc,

I love this blog about your old kitchen. My brother Dong told me that you've been very "present" in Arayat. Good for you! It's awesome to see that the old kitchen was intact. Memories of my childhood come rushing back...hanging out at your place (mostly with Ching and the Kabigtings, especially during easter) and the tennis court listening to the music and the laughter from the stories of the "oldies"... my dad(Romy), Tito Eli, your dad, etc.


Nomer Cruz

hi marc!
i really don't know you but I know that house in paralaya, arayat, pampanga, your cook is our Tiang Lucia and , I spent most of my childhood summers in arayat, I know your dad, (Johnny right?), we used to pick tennis balls for them during tournaments. Our family for some years tended to the lifesize saints used during processions, it ended sadly for some reason ( the cruz clan from my father side). I also lived there for some time, when one of my uncles was asked to look after that house. my favorite spot is the bangguera overlooking the chicos's at the back. That backyard used to be just a big lawn with a lot of fruit bearing trees, now converted to a cock farm.
across that old house, there was a big piggery back then, the caretaker was an unclue of mine (Tiong Memeng)learned a lot from there, I also remember the old cadillac, the sewing house that was converted to a sunflower business and everything. hah! seems I remember it all. The list is very long, yet why didn't we meet? please take care of my Tiang Lucia for me and best regards to you. happy eating!!!!

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