TV host and food critic Anthony Bourdain expressed his love for Filipino food in a recent interview with CNN, saying dishes from the Philippines have the potential to be the next big thing in the United States.
While he admits that the traditional sour notes in Filipino food staples may prove a bit overwhelming to Western tastes, he believes the dish pork sisig may hold the key that brings doors down in America.
To the uninitiated with Filipino cuisine, “sisig” is a crispy pork dish made from chopped pig head parts and liver typically seasoned with calamansi and chili peppers and usually served on a sizzling hot plate.
“Americans and American palettes are just now starting to become seriously interested… I think certain Filipino dishes are more likely to take root and take hold more quickly than others,” Bourdain was quoted as saying in a recent episode of CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday.
The “Parts Unknown” host called pork sisig as “the brightest, best hope for a representational, advanced team.”
“I think sisig is perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole,” he added.
He pointed out that the dish is “casual, accessible, [and] exactly what you need after a few beers.”
Indeed, in the Philippines, sisig is often served as an appetizing beer match.
“I think it’s the most likely to convince people abroad who have had no exposure to Filipino food to maybe look further and investigate further beyond sisig. I think that’s the one that’s gonna hook them,” said Bourdain.
Bourdain is currently working on opening a street food center in New York called the Bourdain Market which he plans to launch in 2019.
His food project will be a gathering of various “chefs, operators, street food and hawker legends from around the world,” as he stated on his website.
But can we expect sisig to be among those featured in the market?
“That’s a necessity. I think that’s absolutely gotta have it,” Bourdain said.
He added that street food, in general, has become “maybe the most exciting sector of eating.”
“Some communities have been more hostile to the expansion of the street food scene. New York is very ambivalent on this subject,” said Bourdain. “So the opportunity to do what Singapore has done… and bring them into hawker centers offers some promise.”
While he thinks that Filipino food is currently a “work in progress” and distinctly underrated, he noted how Filipinos “were able to assimilate and Americanize very easily and very quickly.”
“I think Filipinos embraced America and were embraced by America in a way that other cultures might not have been,” said Bourdain.
Bourdain, who lists his other Filipino food favorites as lechon, adobo, and sinigang, said he is expecting Filipino cuisine to explode like how Korean cuisine did over the last few years.
“A lot of traditional Filipino food has sour and bitter notes, which are very unfamiliar to American palates of a few years ago. American palates have changed drastically,” he added. “I think there’s a really bright future.”