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Adobo-Fish-Sauce mixes poetry and food at FSC

Going into the Thrift Alumni Room on Jan. 31, students peered around chairs and Florida Southern catered food at the stage, where Ricky Orng and Anthony Febo milled around their cooking equipment and mics.

Two hot plates stood on each side of a long wooden table, surrounded by corn, plantains, and Goya brand seasonings.  A fondly used child’s kitchen set stood behind them, a sign boasting,  Adobo-Fish- Sauce.

With the group’s first appearance at the college, Moc Speaks member Tatiana Montilla, the organizer of the event, guided students from the free food (advertised heavily in the event posters) to their seats. Free, mini bottles of Tabasco were passed out, and phone volumes switched to silent as Orng and Febo took center stage.

“This wasn’t our first time at a school, but one of the only ones who allowed hot plates,” Feebo said after the event. “Sometimes because of regulations we’ve had to improvise, even just prepare food with our hands. It works though because improvisation is something we advertise.”

Starting out, Orng and Febo introduced themselves and their cultures, then quickly transitioned into cooking, starting their hotplates and transferring ingredients. Feebo, proudly wearing a Puerto Rican flag apron, performed first.

“The topics we choose are always the ones that are most important to use, like family and our daily lives,” Feebo said. “We use spoken word and cooking to tackle what is to be a minority and what culture is in general.”

Students snapped their fingers (a spoken word tradition) and cheered in appreciation. Feebo bowed before going back to cook, the plantains simmering loudly. Orng, transitioning from his Cambodian corn to the mic, started to perform on his family roots, going in a different direction then Feebo before him.

“We had planned to go on tour for a while,” Orng said, after the event. “I had written a poem about brunch, then Feebo suggested we mix food and poetry, and it just took off from there.”

Orng spoke about his grandmother and how language was a barrier between them. He mixes comedy and heartfelt language, and the audience is respectful and applauds heavily when he finishes. Other performances follow the same format, and soon, the food is finished.

“We cook the things that mean something to us, and hopefully our audience,” Orng said. “We trust ourselves and the audience we get, and do our best to share our stories with them.”

The smell of tostones and Cambodian corn filled the room. Eager students made a line to eat and chat with Orng and Feebo. The air is casual, friendly. Music fills in any silence as students try to food poetry made, and share bits with each other.

“I hope students really enjoyed this event, and want Adobo-Fish-Sauce to come back,” Montilla said. “Poetry and food together is such an unexplored area, and I’m glad there is someone who’s going over it.”

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