Filipino culture, largesse, a subsequent fall from family wealth — it’s all on display in Cinelle Barnes’ first book, “Monsoon Mansion.” And the food is, as well; from decadent coconut crab to the lowly mung bean, Barnes’ roots sit close to the surface.
“I’ve been on my book tour since April 28 and it’s been all sorts of events from straight-up readings to Q&As to panels, but so far my favorite types of events are the types that involve food,” Barnes said.
Filipino food — as well as the culture fueling it — will be one of the topics of discussion on June 30 at the Torpedo Factory, as Barnes sits down with Genevieve Villamora of Bad Saint, one of the District’s hottest restaurants of late.
“I just want to talk to Genevieve about why each of us thinks that the general audience or the general foodie is suddenly craving, in every sense of that world, Filipino food and Filipino stories and what is it about our flavors that’s not just ‘on trend’ but that’s hopefully becoming a mainstay in not just cultural conversations but also cultural palates,” Barnes said.
“Monsoon Mansion,” a memoir taking readers on a roller-coaster journey chronicling Barnes’ family’s rise to and fall from grace, encompasses all manner of emotions. From a successful nuclear family to one that’s fractured and at times traumatic, the story takes readers on a veritable tour of life in the Philippines at a specific point in time and place.
“It’s really exciting to see that Filipino stories and Filipino-American stories are getting attention,” Barnes said, adding that she is but one of several authors writing from a Filipino perspective who are on tour at the moment.
The June 30 event, sponsored by Duende District Bookstore, will focus on Filipino culture, literature and, of course, food — and the cuisine’s long reach across the world.
“I’m hoping that we can talk about how Filipino food has translated into mainstream culture,” Barnes said.
While the event is free, RSVPs are required for the event due to limited space. And Barnes says she and Villamora are looking forward to welcoming the attendees and contouring their remarks for the audience at hand.
“I think we’re both very energetic and we’re both really lively people and I think it’s going to be so fun,” she said.
Hope Nelson owns and operates the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at www.kitchenrecessionista.com. Email her any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.