“Food Lore”, the newest HBO Asia Originals series, just premiered on November 3, 2019 on HBO Go. The first episode of the 8-part anthology features Philippine cuisine and its intrinsic characteristics.
The first episode entitled “Island of Dreams” is directed by Erik Matti (“BuyBust”, “Honor Thy Father”) and it stars Angeli Bayani as Nieves, a woman from the fishing community of Cartagena Island in Negros Occidental. The episode follows her journey as a young child dealing with her siblings and later on a family tragedy, to her decision to leave her husband and children to work in Manila, until her homecoming to the island, which resembles a balikbayan homecoming despite never having left the Philippines.
Nieves was taught the basics of cooking as a young girl by her neighbor, giving her cooking hacks like “extending” the ingredients by adding sabaw (broth). In Manila, she learns more about other cuisines and an elevated way of cooking through her enployer (played by Joey Marquez), who patiently taught her how to cook better (starting with adobo) and exposing her to new food experiences by bringing her to restaurants with the family.
“We wanted to create an aspirational Filipino food movie. We sought to include things that we believe will be exciting for other audiences. So we had to include a fiesta and how it brings communities together. It’s a communal experience for us—we can spend chatting over food,” director Erik Matti said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
It’s a familiar yet heartbreaking story that a lot of Filipinos will relate to. Plus, the food scenes are excellent.
“Food Lore” features a specific cuisine every week with stories created by the most talented Asian filmmakers: Phan Dang Di (Vietnam), Billy Christian (Indonesia), Don Aravind (Singapore), Pen-Ek Ratanaruang (Thailand), Takumi Saitoh (Japan), and Ho Yuhang (Malaysia).
Catch “Food Lore” every Sunday at 10:00 p.m. on HBO Go.