Effects of Geography to Food in ASEAN

All year round, Southeast Asian region experience a relatively uniform warm and humid weather. As ASEAN splits its ten member states into mainland and maritime, these areas are normally with only one climate with two seasons — tropical with wet and dry season. The region shares a unique variety of foods, cooking traditions and practices based on its geographical setting and climate.

Around 6,000 years ago, deltas were transformed into a land of extensive lakes and marshes that convinced nomads and hunters to form permanent settlements and began to experiment with rice cultivation. The first rice domestication happened in Yangtze River Valley, China. It was when people decided to settle on a specific place and started growing rice. It has been adapted by Southeast Asian countries during that time as the climate became warmer and more humid in the early Holocene (Wang, 2019). Now, rice is considered as of the Southeast Asian region’s main staple crop as it is part of the major portion of the region’s diet.

Luzon, the northern part of the Philippines is where we can find the Banaue Rice Terraces by Ifugaos. The availability of water in this hilly part of Cordilleras and pleasant weather condition despite being in the tropics, this masterpiece of terrace cultivation was built. The need of Ifugaos to survive and create a source of reliable crops to harvest gave birth to this magnificent Rice Terraces that represents an enduring illustration of an ancient civilization that surpassed various challenges UNESCO (1995). A 2,000 years old history that shows a unique balanced lifestyle with the preservation of natural setting.

Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is one of the most visited places in the world because of its cuisine with rich flavors and spices. Thai food is known for its exotic foods, spicy flavors and sweet, salty and sour combined dishes. The country has a tropical climate and just like their food, it is always pretty hot. According to Thai Square Restaurant Group, spicy food increases blood circulation and it also helps regulate sweating, which keeps the body cool. This may be the reason why Thai eats spicy food as it helps to sweat, expel the heat and to survive and adapt on the geographical setting where they live in.

Pray Perez Nadal is currently taking Master of ASEAN Studies at University of Philippines Open University (UPOU).