Filipino community upset about Toronto Star article

WATCH: An article on food is leaving a sour taste for members of Filipino community. Peter Kim reports

One Toronto Star article, written by a contributor, describes some delicacies and rarely eaten dishes in less-than-appetizing terms, and it’s leaving a foul taste for members of the Filipino community.

Dishes like “marinated chicken ass” and duck embryo are assigned an “ick” factor by the author and unfairly paint the entire culture as foreign and “other” according to university professor Robert Diaz.

“I was deeply troubled by it. It’s quite disturbing for someone like myself, who is Filipino and also teaches Filipino Studies, that this article was written in the first place,” he said.

The OCAD professor began a petition asking that the article be retracted or corrected.

“The first [thing] is the title. The title refers specifically to PETA-offensive foods from the Philippines, but there’s no indication of why these types of delicacies are offensive to PETA,” said Diaz. “The article kept using the phrase “ick factor” which is really a judgement call on the way food can be repugnant to individuals.”
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“I think if one considers racism to be a generalization around a particular culture and the characteristics of that culture I would say that [this article] is racist in the sense that there is no historical analysis.”

Diaz notes that some of the dishes were a result of colonialism and variations of them can be found in other countries.

“There’s ice cream that the writer says is made out of cheese or Keso. That’s a Spanish word coming out of Spanish colonialism, and so a lot of that food is not only located in the Philippines. You can also get cheese ice cream in Spain. If you look at Balut (duck embryo) for example, you can also get it in mainland China.”

Ea Camarines, works at Casa Manila and says she and many of her staff have never even tried some of the dishes that were described.

“It’s insulting because I feel that it’s one-sided. She didn’t get to travel to enough of the Philippines to really say what it is,” she said.

The author did praise some of the delicacies, like Crocodile Sisig, as tasty.

“Absolutely scrumptious! (And you guessed it, here’s where I sprung for seconds.) With a pork texture and a fishy taste, it’s literally the best of both sand and surf,” she wrote.

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Global News reached out to both the Toronto Star and contributing author but neither were available for comment. Since inquiring about the matter, the headline for the article was changed from “PETA-offending treats on the menu in Philippines” to “A feast of local delicacies not for the faint-hearted.”

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