MANILA (MindaNews / 05 November) — The varieties of Tausūg kitchen art do not come easy to enumerate — there are just a lot of them, encompassing the sweet confections and the more exotic haute cuisine that Tausūgs tend to use as ways for impressing visitors with how they can turn the kitchen into a studio where their arts are created with their simple native instruments.
Perhaps the multifariousness of the art might have been enhanced by the fact that each district and each island have their respective autochthonous sources of kitchen pride with varying recipe, not to mention that quite a number of foreign techniques have been assimilated too. It may be rueful to realize that despite the many varieties of Tausūg cooking art, only a few have gone places to reach some people’s palates and stamp their marks. Perhaps Tiyula’ Itum, a beef stew whose real original name is Tiyula’ Sūg; the Tausūg marinaded-then-grilled chicken called Piyanggang and the Satti Sūg, easily come to mind, among many others.
A budding chef niece of mine, Warina Sushil bint Ismuraji Jukuy, who has a Davao-based catering service of exclusive Tausūg food in the city, recently just educated me more on these Tausūg kitchen arts and their delectabiity, and some of the items she feels quite proud of are Piyassak and Uku’-Uku’. Piyassak, she opines, is comparable to liver pate and foie gras (pwa gra) of French haute cuisine, while Uku’-Uku’ is something like caviar.
I have been informed that Piyassak now is one of the food items served in some Cebu Pacific flights, and its description is an exact quotation of Warina’s personal opinion, despite the lack of acknowledgement. Perhaps as a cultural item of the Bangsa Sūg, these Tausūg food and confections must be given the opportunity to impress other people’s sophisticated palates, the better for them to be appreciated and known as to their origin. It also serves as a way of offsetting other people’s shrewd claim that these items are theirs, which, to me, is a cultural usurpation.
Recently, Eat Bulaga, the GMA’s noontime show, crowned the winner of its Miss Millennial 2018, where our own Nur Shaira Ventura was included in the top 10 among the 40 contestants. While she did not win in any category, what I appreciated in her was her feeling proud of having had the chance to display and present the different Tausūg confections two days prior to that. She also danced the Pangalay as her talent. Loving our own culture and impressing other people with it is a much better way of counteracting bigotry against us, which, sad to say, has proved to be quite difficult to erase, transforming itself into a stigma. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Dr. Benj Bangahan is a Tausug cardiologist and former professor at the University of Santo Tomas College of Medicine. He is a savant on Bahasa Sug – English semantics, history and culture. He used to be editor-publisher of Tausug Krisblade and is author of Bahasa Sug Dictionary and Tausug for Beginners).