• CLAUDE’S CLARK

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    Claude Tayag wears many hats – painter, sculptor, furniture designer, chef, and writer. And if he would take a guest around his hometown in Pampanga, it would certainly be a cultural and culinary tour.

    Here he takes us on a most enjoyable visual travelogue, giving valuable insights on what defines Kampampangan food and art. This is his Clark. This is his SM.

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    Claude and wife Mary Ann enjoy the Kampampangan buffet at Cabalen at SM City Clark

    “Kapampangan food is rich and flavorful because our land is fertile, making food abundant in our province. Pampanga was even considered the “Market Basket of Manila” during the colonial times, being the source of food for Manila, and even serving food for the government. Through the cascos or barges, our produce would be traded in Guagua, which owing to its strategic location, also received shipments from Bataan, Nueva Ecija, and other areas before being transported to Manila.’

    “Due to our proximity to Manila, several foreign influences were able to reach Pampanga during colonial times. Kampampangans took on that historical circumstance, allowing us to be more open to new tastes, new ingredients. This is also the reason why Kapampangan food is varied.”

    “We were probably the first ones to taste American food in the Philippines, and made it part of our everyday life when the American base was here. Being exposed to different tastes and ingredients, Kampampangans have adopted an adventurous attitude towards food and cooking.”

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    Claude at the Homeworld department of the SM Department Store in Clark, which he calls “my heaven.’

    “ I have always been an artist and a foodie. Having been born in Pampanga, and being part of a large family – I am the 9th of 12 children – really exposed us to food and cooking. I loved cooking for my family and friends, and in 1989, Larry Cruz – a close family friend – invited me to cook professionally for Ang Hang. That’s when I say I truly became a chef.”

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    Claude’s restaurant, Bale Dutung (House of Wood) in Angeles City is a great place for foodies to sample Kampampangan cuisine.

    “You could categorize Kapampangan food in two ways. One is the everyday food or pagkain pang araw-araw – tapa, tocino, buro, inihaw na isda – and there are the fiesta food or pagkain pang-fiesta which includes dishes with Spanish influences like lengua and beef paella.”

    “Most Kampampangans cook, and anywhere they go, they will bring their taste preferences. Let’s say a recipe asks for a tablespoon of butter, a Kampampangan will take two. There’s always the “ang tabang nito’ remark. Our tastebuds got used to very rich flavors”

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    Pako Salad, Bulanglang Kapampangan, Adobong Pugo, Kare Kare Oxtail, and Burong Talangka.

    “If I would prepare a special Kampampangan dinner for guests, the menu would include Pako or Fiddlehead Fern Salad; Bulanglang Kapampangan, sinigang na bayabas with bangus, hipon, and baboy; Adobong Pugo or quail; Kare-Kare Oxtail; and Burung Talangka.”

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    If Claude would bring guests on a tour of his home city, he would let them know more about Kampampangan art at the Angeles Museum.

    “I was lucky to have the late writer/painter Emilo “Abe” Aguilar Cruz as my mentor and greatest influence.  My father was his best friend – having known each other since high school and having worked together in the newspaper after the war.  That is why I got to love the arts.”

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    SM City Clark has redefined shopping standards in the Metro Angeles-Clark area.

    “SM City Clark is definitely a crowd drawer. People from the Metro Angeles-Clark (Porac/Mabalacat/Magalang/Tarlac) often visit the mall, and make a side trip to Mimosa or Fontana.”

    “It has also given opportunities to home grown small and medium enterprises, even to the vendors and jeepney drivers in the terminal outside the Clark main gate.”

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    Claude shopping at ACE Hardware at SM City Clark.

    “What I like most about SM is that it is a one-stop destination – for shopping, dining, and watching a movie occasionally.”