Monday, November 30, 2015

Paskong Pilipino…a Filipino Christmas tradition in Minnesota

Phyllis Louise Harris
December 2015

For the last 40 years, on the first Saturday of December the Filipino community has come together to celebrate Christmas for the children. This year it will be on December 5 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Parish Community of St. Joseph, 8701 36th Avenue North in New Hope. Filled with entertainment, a live nativity scene, Christmas carols and wonderful Filipino food, the party also features Santa with a gift for each child. And, it is free!

The ever-busy Lita Malicsi is this year’s event chairperson and encourages everyone to attend. “If you bring a child,” she suggests, “please bring a wrapped present with the child’s name clearly printed on the top so Santa won’t miss a single little one.” For adults there are also food and gift booths to shop for delicious and unusual gifts of the season.

Finding Filipino food in Minnesota is not easy so events like this help keep those culinary traditions alive in our frozen northland. There are so many wonderful Filipino dishes it is hard to choose one or two to write about. In “Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875” we featured recipes from some of the most prolific Filipino cooks who live in our area. They draw on the cuisine of their homeland influenced over time by Spain, China, Mexico, Malaya, Indonesia and the U.S. The American contribution came with the World War II soldiers who occupied the islands and brought with them that canned ham from Austin, Minnesota, SPAM®. The Filipinos liked the flavor and especially liked the fact the cans did not have to be refrigerated. SPAM® became so popular that Hormel built a production facility in the Philippines just to meet the local demand.

I am especially fond of Abe Malicsi’s Egg Rolls – both meat and vegetarian – as well as his absolutely glorious Flan. Other favorites include Mena-Li Canlas’s Empanadas or light and fluffy Putos, and Geoff King’s Chicken Adobo. All the recipes are included in the book. There is something about Adobo’s combination of sweet coconut milk and tangy vinegar that gives the chicken an absolutely wonderful flavor. And, it is so easy to make.

Ingredients for Filipino cooking are available at stores throughout the area and at Phil.-Oriental Imports at 789 University Avenue West in St. Paul. Since 1977, Yvonne Arcilla and her family run store have been the resource for Filipino ingredients as well as that of India, Indochina and West Africa. 

Celebrate the joys of the holidays with a few new traditions from our neighbors from the Philippines. Attend Paskong Pilipino or go to “Asian Flavors” and cook some of the amazing food, Happy Holidays!!



Read more about Asian food in Minnesota and try more than 160 recipes in Asian Flavors: Changing the Tastes of Minnesota since 1875, in bookstores and on
Watch the EMMY® award winning “Asian Flavors” television show based on the book on tpt MN. Check local TV listings for broadcast times or view the show streaming online at: