CECILIA MANGUERRA BRAINARD: PHILIPPINE AMERICAN WRITER CALIFORNIA CEBU
ALA CARTE FOOD AND FICTION
A La Carte is the winner
of the prestigious Gourmand Award
2008 as the Best Food Literature Book from the
"A menu of stories to suit your every craving! That’s A la Carte: Food & Fiction. This book fills a hunger in Philippine literature for fantasy, hyper-reality, romance, mystery … but with a good measure of culinary flavoring mixed in."
Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, culinary heritage advocate and writer
"Here is a book guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating taste, but also to make readers hungry for more stories, characters, insights, and recipes. Fact, fiction, fantasy, and food mix in a feast for the mind, the heart, the palate, and the soul. There are many well-known writers in the anthology, but it is not so much who writes as what is written that makes this book a must-read, just as it is not so much the chef or the cook that makes a recipe to die for, but the dish itself. Enjoy the 25-course banquet."
Isagani R. Cruz, The Philippine Star
"Books on food are quite popular these days and
we are glad that recent
publications have gone beyond mere recipes to evoke what Proust called a
‘remembrance of things past.’ "
Ambeth R. Ocampo
Chairman, National Commission for Culture and the Arts
Chairman, National Historical Institute
A LA CARTE FOOD AND FICTION BOOK LAUNCHED
A collection of short stories entitled A La Carte Food & Fiction was launched last February 12, 2007 at The Podium, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila. Sponsored by the National Bookstore at the Podium and the book’s publisher Anvil, the event drew over a hundred guests. The contributors who were present and who participated in a reading of their stories were: Dean Frances Alfar, Jose Dalisay, Jr., Margarita Marfori, Corinna Arcellana Nuqui, Nadine Sarreal, Janet Villa, and Marie Aubrey Villaceran. Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, one of the editors of the book, was also present.
A La Carte is a combination of 25 stories and recipes that reveals Filipino culture in a unique way, with each story introduced by a recipe. The book is like a menu, with categories of Breads, Appetizers, Salads, Soup, Rice, Main Dishes, and Dessert – with recipes and stories falling under the appropriate sections. collection of 25 short stories and accompanying Filipino recipes.
The recipes included in the book are: Aragula in Blue Cheese Sauce; Shrimps on Leeks; Tokwa’t Baboy; Banana Turon; Pan de Sal; Ensaymada; Green Mango Relish; Feta Cheese with Greens, Artichokes, and Crabfat; Shanghai Fried Rice; Garlic Fried Rice; Pork Adobo; Manok Inasal; Paella/Arroz; Kare-Kare; Lumpia, Laing, Sinanglay na Karpa; Pork Sinigang; Filipino-Korean Lumpia; Rellenong Bangus; Humba; Escabeche; Binagoongang Baboy; Cascaron; and Halo-Halo.
The twenty-five Filipino contributors come from the Philippines, America, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, France, and Germany. They are: Dean Frances Alfar, Irwin Cabucos, Ian Rosales Casocot, Shirley Mae Mamaril Choe, Carlos Cortes, Erma Cuizon, Jose Dalisay, Jr., Susan Evangelista, Ma. Rowina Gonzalez, Margarita Marfori, Reine Arcache Melvin, Veronica Montes, Corinna Arcellana Nuqui, Oscar Penaranda, Edgar Poma, Brian Ascalon Roley, Nadine Sarreal, Joel Barraquiel Tan, Linda Ty-Casper, Marie Aubrey Villaceran, Janet B. Villa, Edna Weisser, and Alfred Yuson. Co-editors Cecilia Brainard and Marily Orosa also have stories in the collection.
The editors of A La Carte are familiar figures in the Philippine literary scene. Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author and editor of over a dozen books. Marily Orosa is president of Studio 5 one of the leading graphic firms in the Philippines and publisher of award-winning coffee table books. Brainard and Orosa co-edited an earlier book entitled Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls, published by Anvil in 2004.
The stories in A La Carte are a mixed bag of joyful stories as well as more somber ones; all of them explore the dynamics of human relationships. Isagani Cruz, of Philippine Star, writes: “Here is a book guaranteed to satisfy even the most discriminating taste, but also to make readers hungry for more stories, characters, insights, and recipes. Fact, fiction, fantasy, and food mix in a feast for the mind, the heart, the palate, and the soul. There are many well-known writers in the anthology, but it is not so much who writes as what is written that makes this book a must-read, just as it is not so much the chef or the cook that makes a recipe to die for, but the dish itself. Enjoy the 25-course banquet.”
Culinary heritage advocate and writer, Felice Prudente Sta. Maria writes, "A menu of stories to suit your every craving! That’s A la Carte: Food & Fiction. This book fills a hunger in Philippine literature for fantasy, hyper-reality, romance, mystery … but with a good measure of culinary flavoring mixed in."
The book, A La Carte Food & Fiction, is available in the Philippines from Anvil (www.anvilpublishing.com) and National Bookstores. In the U.S. it is available from PALH (www.palhbooks.com). For further information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BOOK REVIEW OF A LA CARTE: FOOD & FICTION
BY ANNA BARBARA L. LORENZO, Reporter, Business World Weekender, March 2-3,
A FEAST OF FILIPINO FOOD TALES
As if choosing ingredients for a delicate dish, writer
Brainard and publisher Marily Ysip Orosa went through a meticulous selection
process for their short story collection.
They sent out press releases and invitations through
the Internet, reaching
Filipino writers abroad.
"We first selected 12 stories. We were surprised
because they were very
serious. I realized that food brings up memories about families and relations and
sometimes these relations can be very complex," Ms. Brainard said in an
When the first batch turned out to be serious stories
coming mostly from
female writers, Ms. Brainard said she encouranged more male writers to send
"I was really looking for stories with good, strong
And of course, they had to fit the theme. I have no compuctions about
rejecting work that doesn’t fit. Name does not sway me. They know it’s not
personal," Ms. Brainard said.
The stories came in not just from Manila but also from
Davao, Chicago, Singapore, Hawaii and San Francisco.
Hence, the book, A La Carte: Food and Fiction, is a feast
of Filipino tales
coming from different perspectives.
Like a full menu, A La Carte first offers breads, appetizers
followed by soup, rice and main dishes. Stories inspired by desserts come in
The stories kick off with an easy read, a short autobiographical
Edna Weisser who serves classic Pinoy snacks with the German flair in
Like warm and rich soup served on a cold and rainy day,
"Pumpkin Soup" and Nadine Sarreal’s "No Salt" offer heart-warming tales
revolving on love, grief, comfort and understanding.
Carlos Cortes tells about his fondness for puso in his
story "Hanging Rice"
and his first trip to Manila where the handy packet of rice wrapped in woven
coconut leaves does not exist.
The collection also includes a cute romantic tale of
a man who falls in love
with the waitress who serves his chicken inasal in Ian Rosales Casocot’s
"Pedro and the Chickens."
With food and family being associated most of the time,
A La Carte also has
stories that involve abuses within members of the family, as found in "Two
Drifters" by Veronica Montes, "The Fish" by Reine Arcache Melvin and "Kitchen
Secrets" by Shirlie Mae Mamaril Choe.
Getting inspiration from Laura Esquivel’s Like
Water for Chocolate, A La
Carte has included recipes to go hand-in-hand with the stories in the collection.
This is a nice value-added touch for lovers of literature
and culinary arts.
After all, one might just be inspired to make traditional Filipino favorites
like pork adobo after reading Dean Francis Alfar’s "Sabados Con Fray
Villalobos" or lumpia after Jose Dalisay, Jr.’s "Wok Man."
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