Winter Fancy Food (Part 1 of 2)

Photo of the exhibitors and Consul General Henry Bensurto (seated third from left) together with other members of the San Francisco Philippine Consulate at the Winter Fancy Food Exhibit

New and unique Philippine food products from the 2018 show

By Harvey I. Barkin

SAN FRANCISCO – The Philippines participated for the fifth year in the West Coast’s largest specialty food and beverage event last January 21 to 23 at the 43rd Winter Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center.

While this may not sound auspicious, it is nevertheless an opportune time for purveyors of Filipino food.

As far back as 2012, Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern was tantalized by the fusion of Spanish and East Asian cuisine and predicted Filipino food would be the next big thing. That year Google searches for Filipino food doubled.

A little later, renowned author and chef Anthony Bourdain said Filipino food was under rated but also a work in progress and chimed in with Zimmern.

This year, international food and restaurant consultants Baum + Whiteman predicted Philippine cuisine as the first of three (before Indian and Korean) going mainstream. Also, this year, the National Restaurant Association named Filipino Food as a top trend.

Small wonder that the Department of Trade and Industry – Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (DTI-CITEM) targeted about $48.75 million sales by bringing in 17 new and returning Philippine food manufacturers and exporters.

The USDA Organic and FDA compliant exhibitors were: Arko Foods Philippines, Bethany Sales, Century Pacific North America, Islamic Da’wah Council of the Philippines, Hacienda Macalauan, JNRM Corp., Magical Blend Marketing International, Magic Melt Foods, Mama Sita’s (Marigold Manufacturing Corp.), Monde M.Y. San Corp., Pasciolco Agri ventures, Profood International Corp., Sagrex Food, San Miguel Foods, Seabest Food and Beverage Corp., Subic Superfood and Super Q.

Arko Foods (with headquarters in Valenzuela City) exhibited a large variety of dried noodles, fish and fermented fish sauces, dried fish, cookies, fruit juices and crispy snacks. Their unique product is the Angelina brand buko pandan packaged in an ice cream container — handy to store and get from the ref when you get an attack of munchies. They also have frozen products of hard to find squash flower, banana leaves and blossoms, gabi leaves, miso, saluyot, chili pepper leaves and horse radish fruit. You don’t need to fly to Hawaii just to cook authentic tinola with malunggay leaves or sinampalukang manok with sili leaves.

Bethany Sales is a leading Philippine exporter and consolidator and exhibited their line of Sagana Delights brand of noodles, snacks, coconut products, frozen vegetables and dried seafood. They also brought their M2 malunggay-okra-luya concentrate tea drink. If that sounds like a mouthful and a horrible taste comes to mind, you’ve got another think coming. If you think healthy means drinking Naked or Superfood (with the squishy ingredients), you should get M2 for your vegetable fix. It tastes better than V8, is a source of iron, calcium, potassium and beta-carotene. It also relieves constipation and helps in breastmilk production. But the star in their line-up is the coveted Good Roots brand Salted Eggs flavored potato chips. If you’ve ever dropped as much as $8 for a bag of chips begging your relative to bring you back that chips from Singapore available in Manila, this is the alternative.

Century Pacific Food (with headquarters in Pasig City) is the largest canned food manufacturer in the Philippines with various lines of Century Tuna products (with caldereta, afritada, adobo, with calamansi and hot and spicy which you may not have seen in U.S. markets), 555 sardines (also fried with tausi and fried hot and spicy), they also have bangus and, of course, Argentina corned beef. What you may not know is that there’s also Argentina beef tapa, pork tocino, pork longanisa, hot dog and luncheon meat.