MANILA -- The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Friday launched the Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon (Calabarzon) leg of the country's culinary tourism project, "Kain Na!" (Let's Eat!).
Poised to introduce the specialties, as well as new dishes that mostly highlight the region’s rich coconut produce, Chef Kenneth Degracia of the Costales Nature Farm in Laguna, is confident that "Kain Na!" will jumpstart the culinary tourism of Calabarzon.
"I believe that the region has a very rich culinary heritage. The people are very passionate about it and are very much willing to offer their dishes to anybody who will visit," Degracia said in an interview.
"Apart from the natural features and the existing tourist destinations in Calabarzon, food is what will promote the region and boost its tourist arrivals," he added.
At a degustation dinner, chefs, including Degracia, showcased their culinary art wedded with ingredients that best identify the provinces of Calabarzon. Most of them were cooked with coconut milk.
While one cannot name a certain specialty that encompasses the whole region, Degracia said Calabarzon's "culinary identity is more of coconut-based" due to the numerous coconut plantations in this part of the country.
"When you go to Cavite, they have their Pansit Pusit and oysters. When you go to Batangas, they have tawilis and bulalo, which we showcased also," he said.
At the same time, he noted that "ginataan is popular here because of the region's coconuts."
Set at the Ayala Mall Solenad in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for the Calabarzon region, “Kain Na!” featured at least 30 exhibitors from different provinces who showcased their specialty food products, coffee, vegetables, juices, and culinary tour packages.
The food and travel festival is a series of events first launched in Legazpi City, Albay and Cebu City last October and in Cagayan de Oro last November.
The fair being held simultaneously in Davao Abreeza Mall and Marquee Mall in Pampanga, will be open to the public free of charge on December 7-9.
According to DOT Director Lara Estevez, the agency will continue the initiative in 2019 through 29 Ayala Malls nationwide.
"The production of food in our region has always been plentiful and it's about time we advocate food and farm tourism in the country," she said. (PNA)