The community quarantine has been making kitchen warriors out of many Filipinos and Google has the proof. Based on the most searched recipes by Pinoys, people have been on the lookout for dishes that make use of local or easily sourced ingredients. The list also revealed that people want simpler recipes that use fewer ingredients. This can probably be explained by the fact that they are going to the supermarket less often due to social distancing precautions.
For the month of April 2020, the top 10 most Googled recipes in the Philippines were the following: carbonara, maja blanca, pancake, banana cake, puto, menudo, leche flan, pandesal, chicken curry, and the trendy Dalgona coffee. How many of these have you searched for and tried cooking?
As for myself, it turns out I’ve actually made five recipes from the list, without knowing they were Google’s most popular recipes. That may mean that, like most Filipinos on the Internet these days, I’m also in search of the same flavors, comforts, and conveniences that others are craving for during this crisis.
Except for the more complicated pandesal recipe and the viral Dalgona coffee, Pinoys have been going for relatively easy-to-follow recipes that don’t require a lot of technical know-how in the kitchen. Although I have no formal training in the kitchen (just an insatiable appetite), I enjoyed trying out these recipes at home. I’m sure this pandemic has found many first-time cooks and bakers creating something out of necessity and loving the results. Here are the recipes that I Googled and found myself making during quarantine:
This pasta dish is the most searched for recipe on Google and for good reason. It’s quick, easy, and uses very common ingredients. Although the recipe that I used uses guanciale (cured pork cheek from Italy), you can still get very satisfying results substituting it with something everyone already has in their fridge: bacon.
This quarantine is seeing more and more people preparing and relishing breakfast. We are no longer skipping it as we rush out in the morning to get to work. Only 7 ingredients mixed in a big bowl can bring you closer to fluffy pancakes. For the ones I made, I sprinkled them with powdered sugar and topped them with sweet aratiles fruit in season picked from my backyard. Recipe from allrecipes.com.
3. Banana cake or bread
Banana bread or cake is a handy way to use overripe bananas that are about to go bad. This example of zero waste behavior speaks volumes of how the pandemic is affecting how we view and value every ingredient in our pantry. Although this recipe suggests walnuts, they can easily be omitted or substituted for chocolate chips or almonds. Recipe from allrecipes.com.
Whether your neighborhood bakery is always running out of pandesal or you just want to avoid going out altogether to buy some, people have taken it in their own hands to make their own. American flour brand King Arthur states that their flour sales during the first two weeks of April doubled compared to their usual busiest season in fall. For others, the lack of time is their main obstacle in making their own bread. (Note that this recipe requires about a 2-hour resting time for your dough.) But once you make your first batch, you either realize how easy it is to make, or you have a newfound respect for bakers. Using this Googled recipe at salu-salo.com, I’m of the opinion that both are correct.
5. Dalgona coffee
This is that one recipe that people searched for, but not because it’s convenient to make or it’s particularly tasty. While that caramel-like froth looks great in pictures, whisking for 10 minutes straight (I couldn’t do it longer) is just too tedious. But it’s a trend that really caught on, spiking in April with a 5,000 percent increase in searches on Google, and so I couldn’t not try it, at least once. Perhaps the interest in making this at home could reflect everyone’s yearning for traveling again, whether to Korea or even to your nearest café which is likely closed even in this MECQ.
The pandemic is accelerating certain food trends and it shows in what we are searching for on Google: home cooking because we want to feed our families healthier, comforting fare; support of local establishments for delivery instead of us going out; zero waste because we’re learning to be thrifty during uncertain times; and cooking and baking which seem to serve as therapeutic tools for when we’re feeling down. With all the Zoom meetings, social media consumption, and screen time we go through every day, it really is satisfying to be doing something tangible, like baking bread and making a meal for our loved ones.
Photos by Jar Concengco