Three Reasons Why Pampanga Is the Culinary Capital of the Philippines

A sizzling plate of crispy Sisig. A fiery serving of bopis. A steaming bowl of bulanglang brimming with vegetables. These are just some of the iconic Kapampangan dishes that Filipinos have come to love.

To say that Pampanga is the culinary capital of the Philippines may have to do with the widespread popularity of the region’s food culture. So how did Pampanga come to gain a foothold in Philippine cookery as one of its most-loved cuisines? We list down three strong cases for Pampanga’s gastronomic heritage.

Cooking is inherent to Kapampangan Life

During the Spanish era, the kitchen was the largest room in the Kapampangan home. During the colonial years, locals learned cooking skills from the Spanish themselves and the result was a culinary tradition strongly informed by European flavors. The result included dishes like the Filipino-style paella called Bringhe and the beef roulade known as Morcón, which gets its moniker from a Spanish sausage, much like chorizo. 

Pampanguenos are creative with their cooking techniques

In an interview with Business World, veteran Kapampangan chef Gene Gonzales describes Sisig as a “chopped pickled dish made of vinegar and spices.” Pickling and fermenting were common ways to prepare food so as to prolong shelf life–a practicality in the freshwater-surrounded environs of the province. In fact, the etymology of Pampanga is “Pampang,” which means riverbank.

Freshwater produce naturally made it into several local dishes. Buro, a fermented rice dish, for example, also included prawns. Gonzales also notes that the river, as a center for trade, may have introduced locals to new ingredients like barramundi, but also could have served as an opportunity for Pampanguenos to expand their horizons. In fact, there is evidence that locals may have traveled to Mexico to learn distilling tequila. 

Pampanga is the home of top culinary talent.

There is a bevy of talented chefs and restaurateurs who all call Pampanga their home, and whose personal successes have put Kapampangan cuisine on the map. 

Angeles-born chef, Claude Tayag, who is noted for his art, writing, historical knowledge, and cooking, has published books on Filipino culinary culture in addition to setting up the highly-acclaimed restaurant, Bale Dutung. On the global scene, Tayag has represented the country in prestigious competitions like the Embassy Chef Challenge, where his recipe for Bringhe won a people’ choice award. Tayag is also credited with introducing the late Anthony Bourdain to sisig.

Fellow Kapampangan, Chef Sau del Rosario, has also taken his talent to various parts of the globe, across his two-decade career. During the 2019 San Sebastian Gastronomika in Spain, Del Rosario demonstrated Sisig. He would also submit the recipe to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. 

Chef Gene Gonzalez, a published author like Tayag, has also made his mark as the founder of the culinary school, Center for Asian Culinary Studies and owner of renowned restaurant, Cafe Ysabel, which is notable for its mix of Filipino and European cuisine. His book, Cocina Sulipeña: Culinary Gems from Old Pampanga is a meditation on the food of the old Pampanga town of Sulipan. 

Finally, home-grown talent, Chef Dennis Lim is noted for his culinary self-training. Not to mention, his light-hearted demeanor. In fact, his restaurant, DenLim’s Kitchen was the result of circumstance. Originally a commissary for the family bakeshop, Chef Lim would occasionally accommodate a few friends for a home-cooked meal. Eventually, guest visits became more frequent and today, DenLim’s Kitchen is a go-to spot for Kapampangan dishes with a distinct global flair as well as Chef Lim’s must-try 9-course meal.

Rich Tradition Meets Modern Progression

Pampanga’s culinary tradition is one aspect of its rich cultural heritage and history. Inasmuch as the region is celebrated for its food, festivals, and art (tourists often flock the area for its wildly popular Christmas lanterns), modern Pampanga is a booming center for economic development, especially in key cities like San Fernando and Angeles City.

What is Angeles City Known For?

Between heritage sites like the Museo Ning Angeles, which was designated as an Important Cultural Property of the Philippines, and the Pamintuan Mansion, one-time home of the Katipunan, Angeles City’s massive infrastructure growth has cemented its place as a center for commerce and industry.

The city is bound by major thoroughfares of SCTEX and the North Luzon Expressway, making it easily accessible to Metro Manila. Furthermore, the 53-kilometer  Malolos-Clark Railway will connect Bulacan to the Clark Economic Zone. 

A portion of Angeles is occupied by the Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone (CFEZ). As the home of the New Clark City; Clark Global City (CGC); and Clark International Airport, the economic zone is a major hub for business and tourism in Asia. 

The First Rockwell Center Outside Metro Manila

For property seekers looking to make Pampanga, the culinary capital of the Philippines, their home, Rockwell Land has finally taken its signature elevated lifestyle to Pampanga, with Rockwell Center Nepo, Angeles

The 4.5 hectare development was created in partnership with the Juan D. Nepomuceno Realty Group, the first Rockwell center outside Metro Manila will have all the hallmarks of Rockwell living by way of a master planned mixed-use hub.

The Manansala, its first residential property, offers fifteen stories with thoughtfully designed residential units, ranging from one bedroom units measuring up to 55 square meters to three bedroom family-friendly spaces that go up to a generous 128 square meters.

And with the exclusive amenities, 100% back-up power, a stringent security system, and CCTV monitoring, homeowners can enjoy the distinct exclusivity and privacy that has come to define every Rockwell development. 

Rockwell Center Nepo, Angeles will also feature a Power Plant Mall, and like the pioneer retail hub in Rockwell Center Makati, residents can enjoy direct access by way of a private passageway.

If you are looking to find your new home in the Rockwell Center Nepo, Angeles, contact Rockwell Land today to secure your unit today. You may also download the e-brochure here.

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