The woman I speak of is none other than Lydia Go. Tita Lyds, as she is fondly called, is a pioneer and master in the art of food styling and food photography who revolutionized the craft in the Philippines. She was legendary in the advertising industry, the woman behind local and international award-winning food ads which made her the most sought-after and highest-paid food stylist in the country.
Though I had never met her previously, a couple of my fellow food-loving friends in the advertising industry had the good fortunate of working with her. It was Socky who organized the dinner which was held in Tita Lyds home studio. We were told not to expect plated styling which was totally fine with us. It was her cooking we were after. I hurled my diet to the backseat, I wouldn't have been able to forgive myself if I passed up such a rare event. And oh was it worth it!
There were three spreads. A long buffet table which held the bulk of the food which included: pako (fiddlehead fern) salad with a red egg & tomato dressing, ginataang taong (eggplant cooked in coconut milk), adobong pusit (squid cooked in it's own ink) paired with kesong puti (white cheese) and sundried tomatoes, burong mangga (pickled green mango)roast beef cooked "in a block of butter", alupihan dagat (mantis shrimp according to our resident alupihan dagat expert, Joey, heehee), adobong talaba (oysters) and the pièce de résistance : sinigang na lechon (roast pig cooked in a tamarind broth), which I swear was phenomenal! On the main dining table, steamed jumbo shrimps, ukoy (crunchy shrimp fritters), and fried vegetable spring rolls took center stage.
The dessert buffet was set-up against the other wall. This is where all my will-power to resist sugar went kaput. Flirtatiously calling out to me was a platter of fried suman (steamed rice cake) and chocolate fondue which I first read about in this post of Socky. Flanking it were equally flirtatious native desserts crunchy fried kamote (sweet potato) sticks with sesame seeds, suman sa latik, and the absolutely sinful chocolate and cream cheese log that I could not get enough of.
It was Tita Lydia's mother who made sure that all the girls in the family knew how to cook (and cook well!) at the tender age of 10, she tells me. Her mom was a staunch believer that it would ensure a lasting marriage. Her passion for food inevitably blossomed into an astounding career in food styling, further enhanced by an experience in food lighting and photography thanks to her late husband, photographer Eddie Go.
clockwise from top right: minatamis na saba, suman with latik,
Read more about Lydia Go and our fabulous dinner here.