SM MEGAMALL’s Megatrade Hall was buzzing with activity (and we kid you not, there were actual bees — at least in the honey booths) during the National Food Fair: Philippine Cuisine and Ingredients Show held from March 14 to 17.
The National Food Fair (NFF) is a project of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion, in cooperation with the department’s regional and provincial offices.
The NFF served mostly as a platform for micro-, small-, and medium-entrepreneurs (MSMEs). “We want to empower them,” said Ramon M. Lopez, Secretary of the DTI, to BusinessWorld. “They are the backbone of our economy.”
Aside from highlighting regional cuisine, the plan as well was to highlight ingredients. “This can bring added revenue to our products [through ingredients] that go into Philippine cuisine.” For example, he pointed out that a popular condiment used for a dish might hit the jackpot if the trend for a certain kind of cuisine takes off. “This is usually also the export strategy of [other countries].”
From the 233 exhibitors, BusinessWorld took note of a number of finds.
Aisles and aisles and aisles of chili sauce assaulted BusinessWorld, and our favorites all came from Mindanao. From Zamboanga, we’ve got Mang Isto, a chili-garlic sauce that looks pale in color from the garlic, but red-hot from the chili. Mang Isto can be found on Facebook through its handle, @mangistochiligarlic.
From Davao, meanwhile, we found two contenders: Chigas Chili and Garcic sauce, with our favorite variant in a spicy, salty, and aggressive dilis. Chigas is on Instagram as @chigasph. Ayana’s Siling Kinamayo, meanwhile, also from Davao, claims to be the “hottest chili in the city,” and our sweaty faces weren’t about to argue. They can be found on Facebook @askinimayo.
With the spicy, meanwhile, comes the sweet, and we were in love with Chocoloco’s cacao nibs, in several flavors (such as cranberry). It’s also a Davao product, and can be found on
Our tongues received a lashing from the hot sauces, so we took a break with Batangas gelato from Koibitos. It’s every bit as thick as a gelato should be, with the added bonus of it being flavored with Batangas delicacies like kapeng barako and tablea (local coffee and chocolate).
Find Koibitos at @koibitosworldofgelato on Facebook.
Have you encountered a chiton? No, not the Greek costume, but a mollusc. It looks a bit like a beetle, and lives on rocks. In the local language, it’s called kibet, and we had it in chicharon (crackling) form, by Capa’s Seafood Cracklings. It’s not even fried: apparently, the crispy texture is achieved by sun drying. It’s high in iron and protein, and is healthier in any ways than chicharon. Moreover, it’s an excellent conversation starter.
You can find Capa’s Seafood Cracklings through Facebook @kxcenterprises. — Joseph L. Garcia