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Culinary mapping is being promoted in the Eastern Visayas.

This year, the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Eastern Visayas is pushing for a culinary mapping project that will document foods in the region’s six provinces.

According to DOT Eastern Visayas Regional Director Karina Rosa Tiopes, the project, which is a collaboration between the DOT regional office here and the University of Santo Tomas (UST), will focus on native foods, rice cakes, and desserts.

In a phone interview on Monday, Tiopes said, “As a landmark gesture to define the distinct palate of this region, a food mapping project is proposed to document the historicity and diversity of cuisine, settle nutritional and health gaps, and develop developmental programs to sustain the benevolent food ecosystem to provide for the well-being of the community.”

According to Tiopes, the program aims to create a database of these metanarratives to enhance research and study in food anthropological and functional fields including health, agriculture, tourism, education, product development, and others.

In addition, the project will host a series of food documentation seminars, workshops, and writeshops, as well as develop a tourist promotion program for food destinations, food routes, food landscapes, and seascapes.

The collaboration is part of an agreement of understanding signed by the DOT regional office and the UST on Sept. 5, 2019 to collaborate in supporting programs, projects, and activities to promote and safeguard the cultural heritage of the Eastern Visayas region.

The DOT pushed for the cooperation to focus on food tourism, noting that some regions or provinces have distinct cuisines that set them apart from the rest.

Pinakbet, a vegetable dish from the Ilocos region, coconut milk and chiles from Bicol, processed meat from Pampanga province, and noodle soup from Iloilo are among them.

“In terms of developing culinary tourism initiatives, Eastern Visayas appears to be trailing behind. Neither are the foods of the region well-known throughout the country. “There is a need to inventory and document the authentic meals of the region, as well as the tales behind these dishes, to assist our stakeholders in developing culinary tourism initiatives,” Tiopes noted.

According to the Department of Transportation, food tourism is becoming “one of the key driving forces of today’s travel.”

Food is “a crucial aspect of the tourism experience,” according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, and accounts for one-third of a tourist’s expenses.

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