Pinoy food with an Australian flavor

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COOKBOOK author Yasmin Newman shows off one of her creations during tea at the Australian Ambassador’s residence.

PAVOLVA made with ube

Filipino-Aussie author Yasmin Newman tackles her Pinoy heritage in new cookbook
FILIPINO-Australian food and travel content creator, cookbook author, and businesswoman Yasmin Newman is sharing her Filipino heritage with her fellow Australians a second time with her new cookbook, Under the Coconut Skies: Feasts and Stories from the Philippines.
Ms. Newman was in town on April 18 for morning tea — and to promote her new book —  at the Australian Ambassador’s residence. During the tea, she showed off one of the desserts from her book, a pavlova made with ube (purple yam).
Interestingly, Under the Coconut Skies approaches Filipino cuisine with Australian ingredients. It’s a little more experimental than her first book, 7000 Islands: A Food Portrait of the Philippines, which was published in 2013.
Ms. Newman is no stranger to the Philippines: she spent childhood summers with her grandparents in their home province, while in adulthood, she maintains a summer home in Siargao. “I have gone on to have my own children,” she wrote in the book’s introduction. “As a mother, I yearn for them to know my lolo and lola in loving spirit.”
Both Australian and Filipino, Ms. Newman then has perspective from inside and out. During a group interview, she described Filipino food from the perspective of an Australian. “I think it looks wildly delicious. The combinations of flavors are so unique. The ratios of sweetness to saltiness to sourness… they’re mouth-enlivening, and I don’t think you’d find that anywhere else.”
Drawing from her two origins, she discussed the similarities and differences between Australian and Filipino food culture. Both love food, she says, but, “Here, it’s very much about history, bringing families together, and the time around the table. I think food for us is very much part of a lifestyle.”
She talked about the multiple outdoor meals they have in Australia. “Food is kind of an anchor point around a lot of the ways in which we live our life. Because we have such beautiful ingredients and such an array of influences… we eat around the world every day.”
While there’s a growing market of Filipino cookbooks in Australia, Ms. Newman points to a group of people who have benefited from her books the most. “When I was writing this story, I was just really trying to help do my small part: document the cuisine so that there would be an access point for Australians.
“The people who have reached out to it, it’s a lot of people like myself in the first and second generation — or the partners of Filipinos.” Some of them had Filipino parents who didn’t cook, or else had parents and partners who cooked by taste, and could not pass on what Filipino food should taste like through a recipe. “This brings me a lot of joy to know that that’s helped them, like the food has for me, to understand more about where they’ve come from, and where they’re going.”
Under the Coconut Skies – Feasts and Stories from the Philippines is available on — Joseph L. Garcia