Chris Eberle browned strips of meat in a pan, releasing mouth-watering aromas.
She was preparing one component of the holy trinity making up a classic Filipino breakfast dish called tapsilog, a word created by combining tapa (marinated beef slices), sinangag (garlic fried rice), and itlog (sunny-side-up egg).
While Eberle had sampled various Asian cuisines in Vancouver, the visual artist and bookkeeper wasn’t familiar with Filipino food. So when Langara College offered a class on Philippine cuisine through its continuing-education program, she jumped at the opportunity.
It was the same story for Elizabeth Salomons, Katrina Petrik, and Matt O’Rourke. They joined Eberle on January 9 at John Oliver Secondary School in East Vancouver to learn how to prepare tapsilog, the pickled side dish atchara (green papaya, radish, carrot, and cilantro), and salabat (ginger tea).
Later, they ate the tapsilog and atchara in a way that was also a first for them—with spoon and fork.
“It would definitely wake you up in the morning,” Eberle told the Georgia Straight about the meal.
Instructor Kaye Banez explained during the class that Filipinos typically eat with a spoon and fork, rather than a fork and knife. Banez, a mother of two kids and a vocational coach helping youth with special needs, also said that Philippine cuisine is a fusion of native, Asian, and western influences.
In another Filipino touch, the four students were given leftovers as their baon: food that party hosts usually insist their guests bring home when they leave.
Banez and co-instructor Sharlene Eugenio came to Canada from the Philippines with their families when they were both young. Raised on home-style Filipino cooking, the two friends and teaching collaborators have branded themselves as The Kusineras (female cooks).
In an interview, Banez noted that many non-Filipinos have tried Philippine cuisine at parties and are curious to know more about it.
“Through the food, they’ll appreciate and learn more about our culture,” Banez told the Straight.
Eugenio, a graphic designer, said the course is also meant for those who were raised in Canada by Filipino immigrant parents.
“I have a lot of friends who are my age, who are young professionals and are starting families. They want to know how to cook home-cooked food that they grew up eating,” Eugenio told the Straight. “I thought, ‘How come there’s no cooking classes geared towards this next generation [of] Filipinos who want to get in touch with their culture?’ ”
Banez and Eugenio will teach another class next month, and the recipes are chicken adobo, pancit (noodles), lumpia (spring rolls), kakanin (rice desserts), and barbecue liempo (pork belly).
Called Filipino Fiesta, the course will end with a meal eaten kamayan-style, a traditional Filipino dining practice using the hands. The lessons run for three Wednesdays starting on February 3 at Vancouver Technical Secondary School (2600 East Broadway). Enrollment is now open.