I’m a foodie as much as a bookworm (just ask the members of my book club, with whom monthly book discussions end up as gastronomic exercises), and local travel here in the Philippines, however, is almost synonymous to food trip, and I’m lucky work has taken me to various places around the country that I never would have gone to — I covered an interisland race for two years, so that checked off quite a few places in my Lakbayan map (check out the bottom of this post: I’m currently a B-, not bad as I was a C when the widget thingy was first released), but I do plan on exploring more of our islands — and eat around the Philippines! –before this lifetime is over.

One of my last book purchases last year is an investment towards that goal: Linamnam: Eating One’s Way Around the Philippines.

Written by real-life foodie couple (of Bale Dutung fame) Claude Tayag and Mary Ann Quioc and designed by award-winning artist Ige Ramos, Linamnam is a foodie guide across the Philippines, from Ilocos empanada down to curacha in Zamboanga.

It’s a beautiful book that would look good on any shelf (foodie or otherwise), but the content is quite extensive, too.

Linamnam is sectioned off into color-coded chapters representing key cities and provinces in various regions of the Philippines: Amianan (North Luzon), Central Plains, Metro Manila, Southern Tagalog, Bicol region, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas and Mindanao.

Each section starts off with a useful road map to the region, and then branches off into a degustation of the dishes and delicacies that the area has to offer. Each page zeroes in on a dish, with a description and a photo to whet your appetite, as well as the contact details of the restaurant or eatery.

The vignettes are told from the point of view of the couple (“we”) as they made their way through the provinces to sample food for the book, and I enjoyed the light-hearted, conversational tone of the text — it was like having friends recommend their choice picks from a restaurant. The descriptions are quite vivid, giving the reader a clear impression on what the dish tastes like, how the food is prepared, and sometimes the origin of the dish (or the chef, or the restaurant).

The destinations aren’t exactly off the beaten track, and I don’t think that was the intention. The featured locales are definitely primary destinations, so the reader can find out what the locale has to offer.  I can imagine how useful this book will be when I’m traveling to a certain destination and want to find out the dishes I ought to try, and where to find them. Or, as I found while reading the book, I could pick out a dish I want to try and plan my trip around it! :p

I do like the variety, though. The featured dishes are a mix of famous regional specialties and unique offerings: snacks and salads and soups and stews; from aperitifs to the main meal and down to dessert, merienda fare, and even pulutan. And there’s food for every budget, too, whether you’re the roadside eateries kind of tourist, or the fine-dining one.

But wait, there’s more! After the regional fare, there’s also a delightful section on house specialties, food that can be found across the country in many variations: pancit (18 different kinds!), longganisa (and other similar meatstuff: chorizo, kikiam, skinless longganisa, tostado, tapa, tocino), tamales, okoy, and bottled delicacies (from banana ketchup to caviar). There’s also a selection of essays on Filipino cuisine in the appendix, and a glossary of Filipino terms — real handy for the foreign tourist.

I don’t think there’s any other foodie travel guide to the Philippines as comprehensive as this, and I think it’s definitely worth the (surprisingly affordable!) price many times over.

“Mangan tana,” invite the authors in the preface. Shake out those suitcases, as like me, you’re bound to get a hankering to go places just to try out a dish (or two, or ten, or the whole book!). With Linamnam, I’m all set to eat my way around the Philippines!

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Linamnam, softcover, 5/5 stars

Linamnam is available at National Book Store.

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P.S. I’m giving away a copy of this book — watch out for my next post to join the giveaway!

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And voila, my Lakbayan map. Have you gotten yours yet?


My Lakbayan grade is B-!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.