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Chef Tatung’s book Dishkarte uses ‘Taglish’ to teach cooking

Dishkarte is a comprehensive cooking primer targeted at democratizing kitchen skills for all Filipinos through its use of conversational “Taglish,” its author, chef Myke “Tatung” Sarthou said.

“If the medium is very technical and serious, there’s a bit of a hurdle to deal with,” Mr. Sarthou said. “It ceases to be as enjoyable as it could be, considering that not everybody is learning to cook for commercial reasons.”

In writing the book, Mr. Sarthou was inspired by trending Facebook posts which used conversational language to teach cooking.

He also noted that he wrote the book with his household staff in mind. “Ang hirap mag-explain nang paulit-ulit (It is difficult to explain repeatedly), not to mention, time consuming as there is much to cover and clarify,” he said.

The contents of Dishkarte spans kitchen fundamentals, safety tips, cooking techniques, ingredient deep dives, and step-by-step recipes, accompanied by illustrations and personal reflections.

Mr. Sarthou mentioned that access to good ingredients is a major challenge in Filipino cooking which he hoped to address with the book.

“If you look around, so much of our food is imported… Kahit akala nating sobrang basic, di na pala kaya natin mag-produce… (Even if we think it’s so basic, we cannot even produce anymore…), he said on the availability — and affordability — of cooking ingredients.

According to the consumer price index of the national statistics agency, food inflation capped at 8% in April from 4% in the same month last year.

“There’s that irony of wanting good food, but you can’t afford it… Kailangan talagang i-Dishkarte, so gagawan mo ng paraan (You need to strategize so you’ll make ways),” Mr. Sarthou said, using the book’s title, Dishkarte, which is a pun on the Filipino word “diskarte” which means “strategize.”

The country needs solid support from the government, such as investment in training in order to grow the national culinary industry, Mr. Sarthou said.

He noted that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) does not have accessible material, and they must veer away from purely recipe-based education and focus on training the kitchen skills of Filipinos.

“We can only do so much,” he noted on funding the publishing of the book with his own money.

“But if nobody does it, it’s gonna take much longer to make good cooking accessible.”

The book was first printed in August 2018 by publishing company Vertikal Books and is now in its third edition. — Miguel Hanz L. Antivola

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