Admit it: We Filipinos are obsessed with food. When we're not eating it, we're making it, or sharing it, or reading about, or watching it. So it's natural that the most used place in our home would be the kitchens. Yes, you read that right. To the foreigner, the thought of having two kitchens in one home would be unthinkable, weird even. But for us, having a regular kitchen and a 'dirty' kitchen is totally normal.
In this article, we're melding together modern practicality with traditional staples in what we think makes the recipe for the perfect Filipino kitchen.
Since we usually all gather around the kitchen at odd hours of the day (and night!), lighting is key, especially for late night chitchats while snacking. Choose soft lighting that casts a golden glow, which will not only make your body clock remind itself that it should be asleep at that hour, but also so your brain reminds itself that you shouldn't be picking at humba at 1 o'clock in the morning.
Breakfast nooks and booths are just too small for a typical Filipino family. We like to keep our extended families around, so there always has to be room for tito, tita, lolo, and lola at the table. While the 'formal' dining table – reserved for special occasions – has its own place of prominence in the actual dining room, the other meals are usually had inside or adjacent to the 'clean' kitchen. The bigger the table, the better!
The Philippines has quite the complex coffee culture, ever since Spaniards brought over the first coffee bushes from Europe over a hundred years ago. Our love of coffee is pretty obvious, with all the coffee shops popping up all over the country, but in more provincial homes where coffee is actually grown – like Tagaytay, Cavite, and Batangas – it isn't unusual to see a big pot of kapeng barako on the stove, piping hot and ready for anyone who wants a cuppa. Instead of going out to buy a large caramel macchiato, invest in an espresso machine and make it at home instead, like this one from Briel.
What smells weird to others smells wonderful to us Filipinos. Crispy fried tilapia? Yes, please! The sour smell of adobo cooking on the stove? We can't wait to come back for seconds! Usually, most of the food is prepped and cooked in the 'dirty' kitchen, located outside the home to keep the odors from lingering inside the home, but in these economical times, having two kitchens just doesn't make sense anymore. Invest in a stove with strong ventilation instead to save on space, like this gorgeous one with a glossy mosaic backsplash from E2 Kitchen Detail. All it takes it a little bit of upkeep and maybe a candle or two to keep the smell of tuyo relegated to one corner of the home.
In a typical Filipino house, it's totally normal to see lunch's ulam still on the table, waiting for passersby to take a nip every now and again before dinner (or merienda). Don't spoil your appetite and swap out your meal for a bowl of fresh fruits instead.
Us Filipinos celebrate like the Texans – it's either we go big or go home! Drinking is very much a part of the culture, with cases of beer being stacked one on top of the other, ready libations for a night of fun and laughter. For a more sophisticated Filipino kitchen, swap out the cooler of brewskies for a wine fridge instead, and appreciate the nuances of pairing kare-kare with a smooth bordeaux or your leche flan with a dry riesling.
Why buy an expensive dishwasher when you can buy a cool looking pull-out kitchen faucet instead? With the modern appliance being completely foreign to Filipino homes, cleaning dishes, pots, and pans in half the time with the pressurized nozzle is probably the greatest thing invented since hot pandesal. The commercial kitchen faucets also come with a smaller faucet for filtered water.
In lieu of a 'dirty' kitchen, why not create a barbecue pit in the backyard? You'll be spending a lot of your days outdoors in the summer grilling everything from chicken inasal to pork liempo, and come fiesta time, you'll definitely be the star of the barangay for the lechon roasting in the pit.