According to Google, Tinapa is a Filipino term referring to smoked fish often made from blackfin scad (galunggong) or milkfish (bangus). But in Brgy. Talaga, Tinapa is way more than the smoked fish common to Filipinos.
Apart from the unique variety of fishes used in the meticulous preservation process, Talaga has managed to pass this cooking tradition to generations of Capaseños from the year 1960 and held the title Tinapa Capital of Tarlac surpassing other provinces’ version for decades.
“Sa loob ng mahigit limampung taon, nakagisnan na namin ang pagtitinapa, kaya ngayon, hinahanda ko rin ang tinapa na parang ipinagluluto ko ang aking mga anak. Laging espesyal dahil dito kami binuhay ng mga magulang namin at dito rin namin nairaraos ang aming mga anak” says Africa T. Atienza, eldest child of Leonardo Y. Tullao who pioneered in the said business.
Everyday, Tinapa makers from all over different parts of Talaga prepares the fishes late night and does their work of art to make sure that by chow time, these Tinapa dishes, (paired with tomatoes or sauce and condiment of your choice) are already served on patrons’ plates.
The craft of tinapa-making has been the bread and butter of Capaseños for a long period of time, making it not only a livelihood but their sense of pride. It has been part of their culture, identity and success stories.
“I am very proud to say that my mother, widowed at an early age, has fed us and sent us to school by selling Tinapa,” says now Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan who tells his humble story of studying and working at the same time in Angeles City, bringing with him his mother’s labor of love; Tinapa.
According to the locales, there is nothing more humble than working to put food on others’ plates and nothing more happier than to survive through such humble work. Thus, Tinapang Talaga is a handover recipe. It is not only a craft but an EXPERIENCE one cannot miss if you’d happen to pass by Capas in the Province of Tarlac.
These carefully selected and patiently prepared fishes will surely give that exotic smoky-savoury taste you seek for a tinapa. Tinapang Talaga, bringing local flavors to the world!