The San Miguel Purefoods Culinary Center recently held “Roots,” a delicious gastronomic tour of Pampanga, recognized as the country’s culinary capital.
Bale Marangul or “the big house” is a local landmark in Maquiapo, Guaga, Pampanga. The ancestral home of Don Agapito Miranda II, it was the very first house built in Maquiapo in the 1930s.
Steeped in family and local history (it’s said that the house was used as a refuge by Filipino soldiers from the Bataan Death March), and known for its original wooden panels, capiz windows, and century-old acacia trees, Bale Marangul is home not just to the Miranda clan, but to the family’s brand of Kapampangan cuisine which, like the house itself, has stood the test of time.
At the center of the family’s culinary tradition is 82-year-old Lola Ising, the house’s mayor doma–considered as a second mother by the entire clan. Having lived with the Mirandas all her life, she was trained in the kitchen by Apung Manang, Don Agapito’s mother.
At a recent food tour organized by San Miguel Pure Foods Culinary Center dubbed, “Roots: Kitchen Memoirs”, Lola Ising shared many insights both on the family’s culinary traditions and traditional Kapampangan cuisine.
“Despite the many changes over the years, traditional food will always be a part of each generation andwe wanted to learn from Lola Ising and share this experience with fellow foodies,” says SMPFCC Culinary Services Manager Llena Arcenas. “We are very fortunate to have Lola Ising take us on this brief, but truly special culinary journey,” added Arcenas.
The event began with a tour of Bale Marangul, which was led by its curator, Victor Miranda Jr., Don Agapito’s grandson, also a chef for SMPFCC. Guests enjoyed appetizers like boiled peanuts and sweet potatoes. This was then followed by a cooking demo of kilayin, an authentic Kapampangan dish by Lola Ising.
“Hindi naman talaga masyadong nagbago ang pagkain noon hanggang ngayon. Nagbago lang ng kaunti dahilsa mga pag-iiba ng mga magagamit na sangkap. Nagbabago lang din ang lasa, depende sa kung sinong kakain,” Lola Ising shared.
While tradition and technique has, over the many decades, remained unchanged, Lola Ising makes use of staple ingredients found in all Filipino kitchens.
“San Miguel Pure Foods products are among these staples. And through this event, we wanted to show how our products can be used for everyday cooking—for well-loved dishes we have enjoyed for many generations,” says Arcenas.
Dinner started with a soup staple in the Miranda menu:nilagang baka, manok at baboy. Afterwards, sisig (Monterey Pork and Magnolia Chicken) and other “exotic” dishes such as betute (deep fried frog stuffed with ground meat), kamaru (farm crickets ). All are original Bale Marangul recipes.
For dessert, guests enjoyed ube kalamay, ginataang bilobilo with kamote, langka, sago and buko and cheese sherbet from local sherbet-maker Bondoc, which has been a clan favorite for years.
The second day of the trip to Pampanga started with breakfast fare prepared by San Miguel Pure Foods Culinary Center chefs. The menu included PurefoodsHoneycured Bacon, Purefoods Corned Beef, Purefoods Chicken Longanisa, pandesal with Magnolia Cheddar Cheese and Magnolia Gold Butter. An egg station also offered Magnolia Brown Eggs, Purefoods Sweet Ham, Purefoods Chicken Ham, Yowe mushrooms, and Magnolia Quickmelt.
The event ended with a cooking demo by Chef Brian, resident chef of Angeles, Pampanga’s Imerex Plaza Hotel, who taught guests and foodies how to prepare an authentic and well-loved Kapampangan dish, pesang dalag, a semi-thick soup cooked with lakatang malagkit, lemon grass and fried mudfish.
Betute: deep-fried frogs stuffed with ground meat, an authentic Kapampangan delicacy.