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Filipino cookbooks through the years

A definitive guide on iconic Filipino cookbooks

Collage by Melanie Chang

One of these books is probably hiding somewhere in your grandparents’ home or tucked away in your mother’s bookshelves. Some of these books might even inspire nostalgia and make you recall watching your parents cook with one of these paperbacks sitting to their right. Whatever the case, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and celebrate the following Filipino cookbooks that defined their decade.

1950s

Probably one of the most iconic cookbooks of the century is Recipes of the Philippines by Enriqueta David-Perez (published 1953). Every family probably has this little book lying around somewhere, complete with sauce stains and dog-eared pages.

1960s

Straightforward and comprehensive, Let’s Cook with Nora: A treasury of Filipino, Chinese, and European dishes compiled and kitchen-test by Nora Daza (published 1969) is a household favorite. It covers all the bases—and the basics—that may come in handy for even the experienced chef.

1970s

Made up of 400 recipes, Filipino Cooking Here and Abroad by Eleanor Laquian and Irene Sobrevinas (published 1977) was one of the early Filipino cookbooks targeted to amateurs in Filipino cuisine.This little yellow book includes recipes for everything from appetizers to desserts.

1980s

Adapted to American kitchens, The Philippine Cookbook by Reynaldo Alejandro (published 1985) brings Philippine cuisine beyond the 7,000 islands as the cookbook catered to Filipinos far from home and Americans new to Filipino cooking.

1990s

The Filipino Cookbook by Maya Kitchen (published 1994), a much-loved household brand, compiles the best of Filipino cuisine, from everyday meals to special occasion dishes, under one handy cookbook with a forward from the legendary Doreen Fernandez, an icon in Filipino food literature.

2000s

Memories of Philippines Kitchens by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan (published 2006) is more than just a cookbook—it’s an ode to family kitchens of Filipino families everywhere. Composed of recipes that have been passed down from generations, the cookbook pairs traditional dishes with childhood memories as a reminder to readers that cooking is a family affair.

2010s

Notable for its detailed instructions and information on the cultural background of dishes, Philippine Cookery: From Heart to Platter by Tatung Sarthou (published 2016) brings everything on to the table as it dives into the history, flavors, ingredients, and techniques of Filipino cuisine.

The last few years have seen a boom in Filipino cookbooks, with many deserving of a place on this list. Some special mentions include: Linamnam: Eating One’s Way Around the Philippines by Claude Taya and Mary Ann Quioc (published 2012), The Filipino Cookbook by Miki Garcia (published 2010), 7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines by Yasmin Newman (published 2014), From Our Table to Yours by Angelo Comsti (published 2014), and Kulinarya by Glenda Barretto, Conrad Calalang, Margarita Fores, Myrna Segismundo, Jessie Seincioco, and Claude Tayag (published 2016).

There’s definitely more in store for Filipino cookbooks, and who knows what will make the list next decade.

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