De Quiros on Doreen Fernandez

In Good Taste: Conrado de Quiros mourns the loss of Ma’am Doreen. They were classmates!

The title of Doreen’s column said everything there was to say about it: “In good taste.” That wasn’t just the spirit in which she wrote, it was the spirit in which she lived. She made the ultimate fusion, combining seemingly incongruous elements to cook up one very tasty stew. She was a class act because she was unmindful of class. She did not confine her inquires into the heart, or stomach, of the Pinoy to the preparations made by chefs in five-star hotels, she roved the streets looking for the Filipino soul in tuba and turo-turo food. It was from her I learned of the existence of small and obscure but tasteful and tasty dives in this wild and scrambling city.

She was out of this world because she was right smack in this world. Or she was spiritual because she loved the things of this world. That was something, quite incidentally, we learned from the formidable poet and art critic, Eric Torres, who taught the poetry class. The sensual is not opposed to the spiritual, Torres used to say, while grooving on Bach. It is the commercial-the desire merely to possess or acquire-that is opposed to the spiritual. But seeing and hearing and smelling and tasting and touching the world, reveling in the curves and textures and scents of this world, it was to glimpse the divine. Doreen did just that, at the gut level: She reveled in the subtlety and magnificence of food. And we have been ennobled by it.