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Inside GRID Vol. 7

The Food Issue

Food is an indispensable part of travel; it is our first taste of a place, our entry point to a new culture. This issue is a journey from the fields to the kitchens, as we delve deeper into the food and the land that nourish us: from the rich (and troubled) history of rice, to the heritage of the pan de sal, to the chefs whose job it is to think about the food that ends up on our plates. The stories and essays here remind us that food is an introduction to the places we will go—and it is a potent reminder of home.

Time is an ingredient because look at what happens when time passes. It matures flavors, oftentimes it creates a better texture; if we were to take a tomato and not properly age it in the sense that we get the most of the vegetable, we’d hardly be making a sauce.
– Portraits of a Chef

The story of Philippine food is not an excavation of the past and its taxonomy but a tale of continued dynamism, movement, and change.
– Chasing Food

It’s easy to see rice as simply a staple to each meal, especially if you’ve never been without it.
– Of Gods and Of Men


Highlights from the 4th batch of Travel Series storytellers

A roundup of where we’ve been, and where you should go next.

A colorful tour of the country’s many versions of this glorious iced treat.

DOT Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat and how her expertise in agricultural policy can drive the country’s tourism economy

Don’t judge a vegetable by its shape and color.

Nicolo Aberasturi schools us on regenerative agriculture and how we can grow our own food indoors.

Four days on the Northern coastal trail, in pursuit of waves and proper craft beer.

Nina Unlay picks the minds behind the Philippines’ top restaurants.

Bread expert Jenny B. Orillos takes us to the OG of panaderias in Manila—Pasig’s very own Panaderia Dimas-Alang.

Clinton Palanca and Neal Oshima explore the foodways that’ve come to define Filipino cuisine.

Michelle Ayuyao travels to the Banaue Rice Terraces to explore the complex history of heirloom rice in the Philippines.

Photography by Cru Camara. Adrienne Dy heeds an expert’s botanical wisdom and explores the seamy underbelly of Quiapo’s alternative medicine market.

The best freedivers put the toughest, water-resistant apparel to the test in our first underwater fashion editorial.

‘Tis the season for tons of holiday cooking, so you’ll need all the help you can get.

From The Editors


What’s a travel magazine doing with a Food Issue? Well, we’ve wanted to do one for years—almost since the beginning of GRID.

The connection between food and travel is fundamental: On the first and most obvious level, many of us experience a place first through its food. The cuisine is often our entry point into a new culture—it’s what greets us at inns and airports, in faraway diners and in the homes of new friends.

The connection runs far deeper than that, and it’s those connections that fascinate us. The peerless Doreen Fernandez, quoting Japanese anthropologist Naomichi Ishige, wrote about eating as “the act of ingesting the environment”; to this, she added, it is “quite certainly also ingesting culture.”

Our food is a living record of our geography, our weather, our flora and fauna. Our histories, both national and personal, leave their marks, too. Cuisine is never static—it’s as constantly evolving as culture itself, because it is as much about time and movement as it is about material ingredients. Food contains our past and our present, inasmuch as it very literally prepares us for the future. Look closely at every piece of food, and you will find in it complex worlds to explore.

With endless possibilities about Filipino food out there, we decided, first of all, to talk about our staples. Michelle Ayuyao tackles the daunting story of rice, in particular the heirloom varieties that is so rich in history. Because it’s so inextricably important to Filipinos, any discussion of rice is loaded: there is politics, there is science, there is history, and there will always be emotion.

Same with the humble pandesal, whose heritage Jenny Orillos has tracked down, reminding us that the march of change might move us ever onward, but that also means there are things we might have shed along the way, and that it’s a worthwhile practice to take stock of what we may have lost.

We also tackle the concept of food as movement, via a first look at a book being embarked on by Clinton Palanca and Neal Oshima. We are honored to introduce it here. We also talk about herbs as medicine, and about the chefs whose job it is to think about the food that ends up on our plates.

In making this issue, we’ve been reminded that food says so much about the people who prepare it, and it says so much about the people who eat it. That food is an introduction to the places we will go, and it is a potent reminder of home.



Clinton Palanca

Clinton has won awards for his fiction and in 1998, came out with Landscapes, a collection of short stories and earlier works for children. He writes about food in his regular column on Inquirer Lifestyle, and restaurant reviews for other publications.


Neal Oshima

With over four decades photographing indigenous communities and traditions, Neal continues to tap the medium as a data-gathering tool to examine culture. His body of work encompasses advertising, editorial, and documentary photography.


Adrienne Dy

A medical doctor who traded in her stethoscope for the pen, Aidz loves to explore the intersections of her interests—from medicine and anthropology, to heritage and innovation.


Cru Camara

Cru’s images reveal and examine fragments of a lush, colorful world, and play between the real and the imaginary. She spends her time between Manila and her hometown of Botolan, Zambales to photograph and work on her family’s farm.


Jenny B. Orillos

Jenny is a food writer and the co-author of Panaderia: Philippine Bread, Biscuit and Bakery Traditions (with Amy A. Uy). As member of the Culinary Historians of the Philippines, she presented on Filipino breadmaking terms and cultural identity for a national conference on the Filipino language.


Michelle V. Ayuyao

Michelle was born into a family of race car drivers and home cooks. She grew up as neither, and instead found a compromise by becoming a food writer that likes driving fast. Her works have been included in Rogue, CNN Philippines Life, and Town & Country, as well as local guidebook Manila, Manila, and More.