'Pigafetta's Philippine Picnic' book launched

Photo courtesy of the National Quincentennial Committee,

PARAÑAQUE CITY, April 14 (PIA) -- The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) on Tuesday released its first Quincentennial Publication of the National Quincentennial Committee (NQC) titled, "Pigafetta’s Philippine Picnic: Culinary Encounters During the First Circumnavigation, 1519-1522." The book is authored by food historian Felice Prudente Sta. Maria. 

The book, launched in Cebu City--(approximately 572.93 km. South of Manila) as part of the Philippines' Quincentennial celebration this year--narrates the food journey of the first circumnavigators of the world, who carried enough provisions to last two years--but their voyage extended to three, with rotten food and putrid water left, coupled with mutiny, scurvy, and starvation. 

Some 500 years ago, Filipino ancestors in the Visayas, Mindanao, and Palawan saved this Spanish expedition from starvation, dehydration, undernourishment, and death.

Prudente Sta. Maria herself has released a few tidbits of information regarding the feasts the Spaniards had while in the archipelago on her Instagram page. A few of these staples included domesticated varieties of pigs and chickens usually served during pagan rituals for thanksgiving and other ceremonies, and coconut, which Pigafetta encountered for the first time.

 “Although rice was cooked in a clay pot above fire as in Spain, rice was also cooked in a bamboo tube placed under fire,” Prudente Sta. Maria writes. “He found cakes wrapped in leaves, some of rice and others of millet. One rice cake was called tinapay, according to him.”

There were also bat meat, turtle eggs, tabon eggs and a delicacy called laghan snails found attached to the hearts of dead whales. “Like explorers over the millennia and even today, the Armada [de Maluco]’s crew had to eat whatever would keep them alive.”

One of the food historian’s latest posts zeroes in on Pigafetta and his team’s time in Cebu where Rajah Humabon organized a farewell dinner after Magellan’s death. During which the Spaniards ate 35 different mostly all-meat meals, including one of peacock sent to them by a Bornean sultan. 

“Humabon invited the crew and said he would give them the gold jewelry they knew he had had crafted for the Spanish King. The meal turned out to be a trap and almost everyone who went was massacred. Was Lapulapu in with the plot?” Prudente Sta. Maria asks. “No one knows for sure.”0

To recall, the month of April is being observed in the Philippines as Filipino Food Month to promote native and homegrown cuisines. (PIA NCR)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)

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