Food & Wine

Reflecting Chinese cuisine during Pres. Aquino's visit to Xiamen

Updated: 30 Aug 2011
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Could it have been providential that one of the favorite dining destinations of Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III, even before he assumed leadership in the Philippines, is a place that holds the distinction of being the oldest restaurant in Manila’s Chinatown – the President Restaurant?

The restaurant along Ongpin Street in Binondo, a district of Manila that is the home to Filipino-Chinese families in the capital. Well known to Filipino foodies for its steamed eel in black beans and chili, the President Restaurant is where President Aquino would enjoy his favorite Chinese dishes with family and friends.

P-Noy, as the President is more fondly called, is a known gourmet, attributable in large part to his mother, the late former President Aquino, being a culinary whiz and who, during her presidency, would whip up dinner in the Malacanang (the Philippine President’s residence) kitchens even after a full day managing state affairs. Family members and her circle of close friends all swear by her chicken liver pate and spaghetti with “really huge” meatballs.

Owing perhaps to his Chinese lineage, the Philippine President is a self-professed lover of Chinese food, especially dim sum, dumplings and noodles.

With food being an essential part of any Aquino family gathering and having grown up with a housewife-mom whose one pleasure in life was to cook for her family (painting was another enjoyment that the late former President pursued after her Malacanang days), the President is himself kitchen-savvy and can cook his own meals, despite the presence of a long-time household help who takes care of the bachelor-President’s food and laundry.

In remembrances of the late President Cory Aquino, the Aquino siblings would invariably recall the hearty buffet that “Mom” would prepare for Christmas Eve dinner. “We normally have lechon (roast pig), roast turkey, pasta and fresh corned beef which my mom herself prepares, and various desserts.”

Having majored in French in college, many a French meal were served during banquets hosted by the French-speaking former President during her Malacanang days.

Filipino cuisine is itself strongly steeped in Chinese influence, as evident in everyday Filipino food such as the lumpia (spring and egg rolls), pancit (fried noodles) and mami (noodle soup).

Admittedly, one of the President’s “indulgences” is dining in restaurants. Yet true to his no-frills personality, he likes his food tasty but unfussy, unpretentious yet nutritious and healthy – just how one would describe Chinese food.

During his visit to forthcoming visit to China, President Aquino will have the chance to enjoy Chinese food, for the first time, in China itself.

China, as a nation that has refined the art of cuisine throughout its over 5,000 years of civilization, will in no doubt fail to present its most exquisite culinary treats for the Presidential palate.


SOURCE: Philippines Consulate in Xiamen

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