Historical battles, national flag, and the first president — these things come first when one mentions the province of Cavite, putting into anonymity the glory of the province’s rich food heritage. Perhaps nobody knew about Cavite’s distinct cookery until culinary historian Ige Ramos wrote The Republic of Taste, The Untold Stories of Cavite Cuisine.
The book takes its readers to a tour of Cavite’s history and geography, and zooms it closer to the special products of different localities, down to the people’s manner of eating. These are details that aren’t acknowledged enough, let alone highlighted. What Ige Ramos did in this book was to reintroduce what we’ve been overlooking all this time — pieces of history that only these dishes could carry.
After ten years worth of research, Cavite’s food heritage could be traced back from the days of the Spanish rule to the American occupation in the Philippines where the Galleon Trade paved the way for culturally diverse cuisines in the province. Cavite, being a coastal area, easily became one of the access points for the country’s early trades, including various commodities gathered from around the globe. It brought the culinary influences of Mexico, Spain, America, and China in the region. These influences strongly manifest not only in the ingredients we use but also in the way of cooking that is still being practiced until today.
You may have lived or traveled to Cavite many times before, but it would come as a surprise to find so many Caviteño dishes yet to be tasted. If you’ve never heard of Bacalao, Tamales, Pipian, Sopas Tanza or Calandracas, you’re missing out on the province’s delicate gastronomy.
If there’s one word to describe this work, it’s dedication. It’s the pursuit of rediscovering history through the art of cooking. As Ige wrote, “In this book, we celebrate the cuisine of Cavite, borne from history and terroir, democracy and independence, by featuring unpublished heritage recipes gathered from my own and other families in Cavite.”