An American’s Take on Filipino Cuisine

Palawan15Thanks again to Ideamaker in Chief Andrew Lim for suggesting the subject of this blog. He proposed that I write about:

  • “Your take on cooking, food and alcoholic drinks -both Filipino and American- those you have come to like and those which you still don’t understand.”

Instrumentation

Before getting to the digestibles, let me first explain that the instruments of eating here took time to learn. I think chopsticks were easier to grasp than a spoon and fork, without knife. I had to consciously think about which belonged in which hand, and could be seen before eating swapping them back and forth to try to figure out the proper utility of the two instruments. And cutting meat with a spoon, boy howdy, I knew then that the Philippines had different solutions to things than anywhere else in the world.

But that was only the first part of the discovery. Not long after I had arrived in the Philippines, during fiesta time, I meandered back to the help’s quarters to see why everyone was gathering there and, judging from the noise, having a better time that we were  as we socialized with the extended family in the main house. “Hey Joe” said my good friend Josue the fisherman as I walked in. And, reading my mind as he was adept at doing, he said “we can relax better out here, because we can be us.” And he scooped up another handful of rice with his fingers.

It was then that I learned that there is a real Philippines, honest and fun-loving and poor, and it is the greater part of the nation. Well, honest in the sense of telling it straight, not in following laws. That was a lesson to worry about later, and the subject for a different blog.

The authentic dining instruments of the Philippines are the fingers.

But I’ve adapted to tools like most hereabouts, and I’m now adept at spoon and fork. When Jerry’s Grill put a knife down beside my huge slice of tuna belly a few weeks ago, I eschewed it.

(ahaha snort chuckle)

Lubrication

The Filipino drinks are easy. Well alcoholic. I only know of four.

  • San Miguel beer
  • Red Horse beer
  • Tuba
  • Tanduay Ice

San Miguel beer, when it has not sat in the sun in front of the sari sari store for several months, is first class, right up there with Corona as a wholesome, rich swig. Sam Adams is my favorite commonly available beer outside the Philippines.

San Miguel can be found in bars around the world or stacked nearly a case deep within JoeAm’s refrigerator.

The best thing about Red Horse is that it is cheap, yet the local laborers appreciate it as a gift just as much as they do San Mig. The post-drinking headache takes some time to erode, but, hey . . .

Tuba was a delightful discovery. My father-in-law peddles the stuff, unlabeled, to the sari sari stores in his community. It is mellow, tastes thickly fruity, lasts un-refrigerated for quite a while if you keep the air out, and doesn’t impose a headache. It liquefies lips and senses of humor like few other alcohols.

I have a hard time comparing wines or regional drinks such as tuba or Portuguese port or Spanish grappa, one over the other. The EXPERIENCE of the drinking, if done right, becomes a part of the drink. So rough grappa sipped at the edge of the central plaza of a remote Spanish village is unmatched. Unmatched. And putting away coke and tuba at a rough table under the mango tree with a collective of cackling, joking old farts bursting with warm camaraderie is unmatched. Tuba IS the Philippines, and I love it.

Bantayan06

Tanduay Ice is a girlie drink, I think. I don’t like the sweetness, but it is my wife’s favorite. One bottle puts her away nicely. She keeps a few of those in the fridge for the evenings when friends stop by, or for medicinal value after a particularly tedious parent/teacher coordination meeting.

I’ve given up on the wines here. They are quite bad, although maybe in Manila it is possible to find some quality. In the U.S. I was a wine junky for a while but haven’t kept up with it. I suspect that restaurants in California in the U.S. pour as much wine at dinners as they do water. That is a big difference between the U.S. and Philippines.

For non-alcoholic beverages here, I drink mango juice and more mango juice. In the U.S., it was Gatoraid, for the electrolytes, for the biking. Here I let others do the pedaling.

Coronary Impedimentation

It is my understanding that many Westerners fight the change in styles of cuisine, or the flavors. They want home cooking. That’s why I don’t hang around with them much. They’re crazy.

I went cold turkey to Filipino foods the day I arrived. I ate calamari hauled that morning out of the Bay by Josue.  I got used to hot dogs for breakfast instead of at the ball park. I ate salty little silver fishies, fried up and served eyeballs and all. Somehow pork and beans got onto the morning plate; that was as close to American as it got. I don’t like the avocados here, having been spoiled by Mexican avacados, which have a very different flavor. Eggplant here can be either huge or tiny. My favorite dish is humba, done just a tad sweet. Or pork chops with a nice rim of crispy fat. And I enjoy the common dish ampalaya and pork, especially if the ampalaya is picked fresh from that vine growing wildly in the front yard.

The amazing thing about Filipino food is that it is put together with whatever might be available. It is “common” cuisine, zipped up with a few easy condiments and a lot of pork. It is that “from the earth” quality that makes it distinctive over, say, prissy French cuisine or muscular American meals.

My dessert is often either bananas or mangos. I rate every mango 1 to 10 the way some rate wines or girls. I had a 6 and an 8 at lunch today. Half of the mango goes to me, half to the kid, and my wife slurps the fruit around pit, which I complain about because she trims our slices too thin and the pit really thick.

The beef here is consistently tough and stringy. I suppose that is the biggest difference between the U.S. and here. The cows don’t fatten up right in the tropical sunshine, or they are eating the wrong foods. But the pork is super fantastic. At first, I resisted the fats. Then I nibbled a little. Then nibbled some more. Now I gobble like everyone else, savoring the deep, fried fat juices and feeling somehow sad when the last morsel is gone.

I also doubled my daily dose of Lipitor.

Onions and garlic are always stacked in the kitchen, finding their way into just about everything. Tomatoes or tomato sauces, pineapple. Common. I don’t know the names of half of what I eat. I know my wife’s menudo, for sure, because she chops things small and has  developed a sauce with a bit of kick, sweetened by raisins. Sorry, I can’t describe it.

But that’s it, you see. In America you get big chunks of food. Here you get things chopped up and sauced. The flavors here are more mixed. In the U.S. you have your steak in front on the plate, you have your potato to the left, you have your vegetable to the right. Here you have your big spoonfuls of a mixed dish on a pile of rice in the middle of the plate.

For sure, I eat healthier here than I did in the States. Fish regularly. Vegetables. Fruit. Fast food is simply too easy in the U.S. And my weakness was “In and Out” hamburgers in Los Angeles, with natural fries peeled and chopped just before frying. Ach, I miss those burgers and fries more than steak or any other American food except my Mom’s homemade cherry pie and cinnamon rolls, may she rest in eternal peace.

If I were to compare national foods around the world, the top spot would be held by Japan. The second by Mexico. The third by India. The fourth by Greece.  The fifth by the Philippines.

Now don’t get testy about those rankings. You notice that American didn’t even make the finals.  Those are personal choices generally attached to flavors and styles I like, such as wasabi and soy sauce for raw fish, or guacamole and tortilla chips, or something as simple as heady cheeses and briny olives.

As with drinks, however, the food is a part of where you eat it. And if you get it sitting shoeless and cramped on the floor of a sushi house in Kyoto, it becomes pretty special food.

I suppose there are three kinds of eating.

  • The eating we do because we have to.
  • The eating we do because we like it.
  • The eating we seek out and embrace as a part of a great discovery.

Filipino food, for me, is the latter, and I doubt it will every change. And it without question represents some of the best parts of my day.

Comments
40 Responses to “An American’s Take on Filipino Cuisine”
  1. The Mouse says:

    Speaking of San Miguel, the San Miguel imported to the US tastes different from the one in the Philippines. It does have a bad aftertaste….

    I love In and Out. Definitely a weakness! But then, I still try to avoid processed foods…but hey, a burger a month is not that bad. LOL.

    I never really understood Mexican food (and I live in an area with LOTS of Mexican immigrants). No, not Taco Bell but the one run by immigrant Mexicans. It seems to me that they’re all the same, just “packaged” differently. LOL. I guess I got used to food being too different. Say, a Chinese broccoli sure do not taste the same as chop seuy. I’d take Americanized Chinese food over Mexican but I do miss the local Chinese food in the Philippines.

    I also hope that Philippine bananas and mangoes will make their way to the US one day. It’s just a lot tastier than the ones imported from Latin America. Mangoes are even a rarity. And boy, I never saw and “Indian Mango” here (my fave next to yellow mango)

    I never got why Shawarma doesn’t seem to have caught up here in the states? I miss that stuff. I prefer it over burrito. Hehe

    • edgar lores says:

      1. Food! Glorious food!

      2. I developed a taste for Shawarma in Jeddah. The hummus, the tabbouleh and the grilled lamb with chilli sauce – yeah! I would feast over 2 or 3 for dinner.

      2.1. I have had to settle for doner kebab here in Oz, absent the hummus and with cabbage, tomato and onions substituted for the tabbouleh. It’s not quite the same, but still does the trick.

      3. We venture into Mexican food every blue moon but taco is simply not designed for the mouth.

      4. Give me seafood anytime – especially kilawin which I have not had for 2 decades – but would be satisfied with baby octopus in tomato-chilli sauce or just even fish and chips wrapped in last week’s paper.

      • Joe America says:

        Ahh, I left out the Middle East entirely. What a horrid omission, and thanks for filling that in.

        Order the soft taco, heh heh. And see my response to the Mouse. 🙂

        Gadzooks, but your number 4 makes me hungry.

    • Joe America says:

      Category 3, eating as a part of discovery, is very particular to the individual. My own discovery of Mexican food came with a delightful tour of the Baja Peninsula with a delightful companion, and a particularly fine chile relleno at a cafe off the main plaza of San Jose del Cabo. The mile stretch of white sand beach south of there occupied by two, and only two, may have had something to do with it. Plus margaritas, with salt, and the aforesaid guacamole. Heaven itself.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Do not get fooled by Zankou chicken. They serve Shawarma, thinkly shaved roast beef rolled in equally thin pita bread. Taste is weak, yet, heavy on the wallet. Try Papa Kristo’s lamb&beef gyro slathered with tzaziki sauce (yogurt & olive oil) if you prefer. Greek gyro is shawarma to armenians. huge cut of grilled lamb&beef wrapped in fluffy thick pita bread. c $0.50 cents differene and a quarter of a pound heavier. It is Zagat rated. If you happen to layover in L.A. it is worth a 30-minute drive from the airport to Pico and Normandie. This corner street is historical. It is a flash point of ’92 L.A. Riot.

      Violent riot made this place into veritable culinary place. The rats and roaches are gone replaced by another breed of violent gangs. Not goot in the evening. Doncha love L.A.!

  2. andrew lim says:

    I like the title “Ideamaker in Chief”. At least I get to live out the fantasy of occupying a top post without any real responsibilities. 🙂

    I love your piece, will forward it to some friends who have food blogs. I hope it gets picked up by some magazine like Saveur or Food and Wine. I think now is the right moment for Filipino food to take off internationally; there are several Pinoy restaurants in NYC making it good. Not just as novelty, but mainstream. Adobo has been featured countless times. Pinoy chefs populate most restaurants abroad.

    We could talk about this topic for hours, I was deep into it for the past 4 yrs, but decided to scale it back for health reasons. Yes, wine appreciation has picked up in the metropolis, too.

    I think the global acceptance of a nation’s cuisine is tied to its economic status. Nobody would eat raw seafood when Japan was a poor country. Filipino food has entered the mainstream, aided by the popularity of the present administration. More comments later.

    PS I followed the twitter feed of the RH oral arguments yesterday, and the antis had me rolling in laughter. (RH is genocide! – Sen Tatad; ) Ill see if it can be turned into a piece.

    • Joe America says:

      The salary of the IC is commensurate with responsibilities.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the write-up. Thanks for suggesting it. Your other suggestion is on the todo list, but this one was too good to delay.

      Indeed, Filipino cuisine could be due for a breakout with increasing tourism and the emergence of the Philippines as a first rate republic.

      That poor anti-RH attorney at the SC. Talk about being served lunch.

      • The Mouse says:

        Lumpia and pancit are the most known outside the Filipino community. I suspect that Filipinos cook it more consistently as compared to other Filipino food. Not my favorite but I don’t hate it either. My love will always be Filipino chicken curry and Sinigang

        I always thought that the Lack of appeal of Filipino food to outsiders is that a lot of Filipinos who make the food commercial are not spectacular cooks. When cooked properly, Filipino food can stand out. But that’s just me

        • Joe America says:

          I think you are exactly right. Get a skilled cook, and the flavors are amazing. We have one in town in a little wayside cafe. What a talent she would be in a bigger city, in the right venue.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Filipino food in America is still in the doldrum. Only Filipinos & American spouses of Filipinos eat Filipno food afraid of alienating their spouses. Thai and chinese can be found in Malibu but never ever found Filipino food on the west side of L.A. Ethiopian food is soughted after by denizens of the hollywood cool in Little Ethiopia. I just wonder why!

      Maybe because of preparation and presentation which makes or breaks culinary artworks. Filipino restaurants are mostly turo-turo (point-point). You point a dish in the warmer and they throw it at you. Ethiopian and Indians cook their food when ordered and presentation is pure art. Filipinos must realize that in 1st world they eat not for nourishment but for entertainment. They want to be lavished and attended to in dimlights with no TFC shrill blaring and patrons laughing like hyenas like Filipinos. That is why Max Fried Chicken in the U.S. never caught on with the real Americans though their food is more “Americanized” than real traditional oily Filipino dish because of symphony of “pssst” “hoooy” “Aha!ha!ha! hawr! hawr! hawr”.

      What I hate about Max Fried Chicken is their chair seats low to the floor and table up my chin. Gosh! people they should give me booster seat to eat in this place. I smoke. But I know where to smoke. AWAY FROM THE PRYING EYES OF pollution-averse Americans. In Max like any other Filipino restaurant they smoke by the entrance door. Jeeez, people, this is not your country. This is Americans country. Please mind your manners. Americans bend over to accomodate this toxic cultural traits afraid they might be branded as racists.

  3. ella says:

    Wooooo what a topic! Food the glorious food. I am now missing all the Filipino foods that I love.

    In my first visits to this foreign country where I am a legal immigrant now, I really have to learn how to eat without a spoon. Every restaurant we go into had only fork and knife, it too me sometime to look and learn how people can eat with them. Now, I can eat with just fork and knife.

    When we were still living in the Philippines, some Westerners came to visit us and I still remember a comment I heard. “It takes a lot of eating Filipino food to acquire a Filipino taste, how can you eat green mangoes with bagoong.” Ohhhhh Mr. Joeam, green mangoes with bagoong are one of the Filipino foods that I miss the most.

    @The Mouse, I am with you I hope too that Philippine Mangoes and Bananas will find their way to my second country.

    @Joeam, I hope also that I could grow ampalaya in my garden here!

    • Joe America says:

      My wife is a green mango addict. I presume bagoong is that spoonful of tangy red paste she dips the slices in. I have developed a liking for them, too. It’s rather exotic for me. There’s nothing similar to that in the U.S.

      Every once in a while, we’ll get a really bitter ampalaya. It is rather a feat of great mental discipline to finish the meal. 🙂

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      Girl, I tell you, it took me time to learn those table utensils and manners. My nephew taught me how soup spoon looks like. My niece corrected my diction so they wouldn’t get embarassed the next time I ask for “soap” in Souplantation, more “picha” please! “what happen to my order of picha?”. “Uncle, p-i-t-s-a not “picha”. One thing I like about Americans is they are not snootty when it comes to diction as long as I am understood unlike in the PHilippines where they would laugh at me. “HA! HA! HA! PICHA!”

      In 1st world I learned a lot. Tolerance instead of highly critical of englischtzes usage. If diction is bad yet understood it is OK. But not in the Philippines. Service and attention is based on perfection of englsichtzes usage.

      In Philippines, San Mig Cerveza Negra is for bleeding women while green mangoes is for pregnant spouses. Could Joe’s wife pregnant?

  4. JosephIvo says:

    You made me hungry and it is still too early.

    So many nice discoveries in the Philippines over the years, my favorite kinilaw, sinigang, gata’s, adobo’s, fern salads, banana hearts salads, grilled tuna belly, deep fried boneless bangus, dried fish, many 8,9 and even 10 mangos and many others, prepared at home or in a few of my favorite restaurants (most others spoil the dishes because of not fresh, overcooked, too salty, standard soy sauce taste…)

    But I do not always appreciate the impossible combinations thrown at you during parties, lots of white rice (cold by now) with pizza (preferably Hawaiian) and sticky spaghetti (sweet with hot dogs) so both will have no reference to Italy, Belgian chocolates received as birthday gift, chicken adobo, barbecue sticks, lumpia’s, peanut sauce and of course soya sauce with calamansi and something spicy to kill all original tastes. Food pairing is not an average Filipino skill, but smiles are and they make up for it a thousand times.

    Weekdays are for San Mig and Filipino food, but we substitute white rice for brown one as often as we can, some dishes require white rice though, sweet and sour’s, gata preparations, spicy shrimps… The weekends I cook French or Italian and indeed in Manila you can find decent and affordable wine, but then I keep looking forward for the weekdays and vice versa.

    In black and white terms, Filipino food relates to Indonesian or Thai food as do German or English relates to French or Italian. More honest, rather straight forward tastes and presentations versus delicate and more sophisticated ones. Reflecting my parents tastes, I still love both approaches. All the food wonders of the world…, where is the kitchen, I want to try something new.

    • Joe America says:

      Wonderful review. I should have asked you to write this blog. Your first paragraph nails some very special delights, especially banana heart salad with green mango slices. Ai yi yi yi yi.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      I so love food. But I cannot eat. I want to stay trim and fit. Zero fat if possible. This is SoHo where people are skinny-see-through-bubble heads. Tiny and short. People do not eat here. They gulp espressos, hang-out, tapping away on their Macbooks for next screenplays and appearing sos wearing oversized black sunglasses. Fatsos have no place in films they are only fit for Comedy Factory in Toronto. Oooops! Sorry, Toronto sure like your poutinis bare naked without the gravy.

  5. cha says:

    When I was a child, breakfast was a hot plate of garlic infused sinangag and tinapa (smoked fish) or itlog na maalat (salted duck eggs) in tomato salad and longganisa, or my dad’s special egg omelette with burong mustasa (now this I do miss).

    Then we Filipinos got introduced to american hotdogs, and that’s what my younger siblings then got to have for breakfast.

    We munched on boiled peanuts, or butong pakwan (watermelon seeds) while watching tv or trekked to the corner sari-sari store to get some kropek or chicharon (pork crackling) when we were bored until these crispy potato chips wrapped in foil packages found their way into the sari-sari stores and into the hands of most every Filipino child.

    In college, we would get banana cue (deep fried bananas in caramel sauce) and sit on the lawn just beside the UP chapel; sometimes belting out a couple of tunes while one of us strummed on the guitar, but often we’ll just talk about the stuff that mattered most about our lives at the time (boys, grades, boys, books, boys… Lol).

    Then McDonald’s opened its first store in Cubao, Quezon City and we all joined the queue on the first week.

    We used to go to Max’s for fried chicken (still do when we’re in town), then we met Col. Sanders and his KFC chicken and he too, became part of the family.

    I remember my first taste of Japanese food at the old Kamameshi House, my first bowl of tom-yum-goong at Sukho-thai, my first helping of caesar salad at Alfredo’s and even my first vietnamese rice paper spring roll, although for the life of me, I just can’t remember the name of the restaurant anymore.

    I think we Filipinos approach food in pretty much the same way we approach people of varying nationalities who come into our world: We’re open to just about anything and are wont to eventually adopt them and make them a part of the family.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, the range of food here embraces the entire globe, almost. ahahaha, one of my early cafe experiences was in Subic, a place called uncreatively enough, “The Coffee Shop”, that featured a giant taco. That baby was the size of a football. Now THAT is adaptability.

      Reading your note is a gourmet’s delight, conjuring up all those delightful flavors. My wife does banana cue about once a week, and it substitutes for what the British serve as afternoon tea. About 4:00 in the afternoon, she bakes up a batch for anyone who is lucky enough to be around, and we sit out front and yammer.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      In my elementary days my snacks consist of local chorizo sandwiched by “hanging-rice” washed down by Bireleys. STOP! JUST STOP! I know you guys are asking “BIRELEYS”? Where in the world this guy grew up in! Dude, Bireleys was a bottled chocolate drink. You have to shake it vigorously so it would mix evenly and gulp-gulp-gulp! That was in the days pre-tetrapak! biyente centimos!

      I know you are busy calculating how old I am. “Bireleys” is a dead giveaway of my age. “Hanging-rice” is my geographic identification. Triangulate, elminate, deduct and people here would know where I came from and my age. Give up?

      Here is another clue! Klee-ko. Who has heard of Klee-ko. I bet ya if this were available today you giuys wouldn’t even think of touching that orange juice. Guys, let me tell you, I am a kid trapped in an old body.

      • cha says:

        Hah! I now know I am definitely younger than you Mariano! Need to call my dad in Hawaii to ask about Bireley and hanging rice and Klee-ko. For your sake, I hope my dad doesn’t say he also needs to ask his itay. Hahaha!

  6. essie says:

    Ah, my favorite topic! Reading your post makes me nostalgic for my mom’s cooking… nothing beats a hot bowl of sinigang on a rainy day.

    And mangoes! The best mango I had was in a beach La Union – we ate a perfectly ripe mango right after a swim, the salt on our lips mixing with the sticky, sweet mango juice. Perfection.

    • Joe America says:

      Sinigang on a rainy day! Now THAT is the distinction between cuisine and food.

      Your mango rates an 11 on my 10 point scale, for the delightful scene. Perfection +.

  7. Attila says:

    I’m fascinated why Hungarian sausage is so popular in the Philippines. It is everywhere from hi-end hotels to buss station carinderias. It is also available in supermarkets in the frozen section. It is made in the Philippines but the recipe is definitely Hungarian. I tried it and I got the goosebumps. My childhood memory came back, this is so surreal!

    • Joe America says:

      Maybe Hungarian sausage is copied from the Philippines. 🙂

    • andrew lim says:

      Its spiciness is appealing to beer lovers.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      With my fascination anything that looks like my in-betweens I must have eaten it. What I mean is I love sausages, chorizos, sliced pepperoni. I am not gay it is just that most appropriate adjective there is. And, oh, I am a member of Human rights Campaign. That yellow parallel line against blue background that conjures mathematical “equality” sign, Universal sign of Equality that Humans are created equal and should be treated as equal no matter sexual orientation. I love chorizos. Sausages.

      Whenever my mother is in Davao City she’d go to Bankerohan Market and order custom-chorizo. 1/3 fat and 2/3s lean with ground garlic and chilis, because that is what I wanted, without sodium nitrate (preservatives). My Mama knows that my stomach is sensitive to anything preservative. Their chorizos rocks! I knew my Mama did not divulge her custom-chorizo to me because when I order same chorizo recipe it doesn’t come out the way my Mama custom-order it. Could it be dog-meat? Or cat-meat? I can never know. My Mama is gone. Her recipe book never mention it. Maybe, just maybe it has ground Abu Sayaf in it.

  8. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    HA! HA! HA! HA! Thank gootness, America! It taught me to cut meat into bite size using knife not the spoon! This is where I learned to pick-up food with chopsticks raising bowl of rice close to the mouth and rake it in. Slurping is OK at Chinese restaurant but not OK at Red Lobster. Very seldom I eat with my hands nowadays except if I am before a lobster or crabs and at home only. Does anyone know that Americans eat cockroach? Yeah, they do. They call it crawfish! It is steamed and served over paper. Yeeech! No matter how I look at it it is close cousin to cockroach!

    Whenever I am in the Philippines I drink Red Horse for the kick and Cerveza Negra to relax. My wife warned me not to order San Miguel Cerveza Negra because in the Philippines this type of beer is medicinal for menstruating women. Gosh, Cerveza Negra is dark beer in english. Dark Beer is the main fare of Irish beer giant Guiness.

    I do not drink Budweiser anymore. Budweiser is a drink for construction workers and bikers. Miller is somewhat drank by shirt & tie wall street type fresh out from college. Corona, bleah!, it is like drinking watered down beer. In the early days of Corona, they squeeze lemon in it to drive away the rusty after taste because Mexico’s distllery pipes at that time were rusted. It kind of caught on to squeeze lemon in a Corona to this day.

    I buy Samuel Adams when they sell varieties-in-a-pack which only comes out winter time other than that I go for micro-brew or hand-crafted brew which has a tinge of freshing peach but most of the time I prefer Guiness Dark Beer extra stout. Hmmm …. bubbly and chocolatey heavy on the palete with bold taste from start to finish.

    Wines in the Philippine sucks! Totally, absolutely sucks! Wines at Duty free still sucks! It could be because of the weather and the turn-over is not fast enough to restock for fresher ones.

    Does Joeam knows how Tuba is gathered? He should tag along next time when they harvest tuba. Joe can see flies, crickets, cockroach and other insects inside before they strain it out. No wonder Tuba is healthy and sweet tasting. To heck, I drink tuba at a street corner in a garapon. I should send a gallon to Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmermn. 🙂

  9. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    When you are envited to the kitchen you are one of them. If you are not allowed to venture outside of the living room in a party, you do not belong to them. In the kitchen is where the goodies are fresh off the grill before it is served to people in the living or dining room or in the yard. Guests in living room are being impressed because they do not belong.

  10. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    I’ll be darned, I love artery-clogging coronary humba my son’s favorite. I prefer chicharones Filipino style than Mexican style hands down. HA! HA! HA! Poor, Joe, you only get one-half a mango while in the U.S. you get to eat one whole mango. It is not cultural, it is economics. Filipinos always cut-up meat including mango to pineapple in economy bite-sizes for everyone to have their fair share because everything here is expensive. Another favorite of mine is chicken pieces deep-fried crisp.

    In my days, eating pork or beef are only for the wealthy, today, it is for the poor and fish for the wealthy, times have turned upside down. Of all things Japanese, sashimi is the best of my favorites dunked in wasabi mixed with kikkoman. I always get my moneys worth in Japanese buffet. I start with tuna, i like the firm meat and tinge of crunch, and work my way up to jelly-like salmon and wash it down with jasmine tea.

    I eat Mexican most of the time a little bit of Filipino dish sometime. Why? Why? Because I hate the shrill of The Filipino Channel (TFC) blaring at me, hold me hostage a captive audience. No! No! No! Enough of that. I am so used to American news network TV. 2ndly, THE PARKING IS HORRENDOUS!!!! at any Filipino place!!! The parking is norrow and tiny. I have a SAAB not considered ToyotaCorolla small! Filipinos must be thinking that all their customers drive Corollas and make their parking Honda Civic friendly. Jesus Mary Mother of God! Que Horror! To top it all, Filipinos, like Asians, drives crazy. I do not want dings on my European.

    In Filipino grocery stores, Filipinos push their cart like they drive in the freeway. They change lanes without looking! Que Horror!!!!

  11. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    In America I only gone twice in Jollibee because the manager there is a friend of mine from U.P. hired direct from Philippines interviewed thru skype! Nice guy! I often get free Jollibee chow when he comes home. I also visited that famous bakeshop in the Philippines I forgot the name their famous for their halo-halo. Why I never visited this place again because their halo-halo was $4.50!!!!! SHAVED ICE with coloring, evaporated milk, cupful of sugar and those little slimy pearly something! $4.50???? They must be insane. Never went back. I can have shaved ice all i want at home. Jeeez!!!!

    Of course, wait! wait! now I remember, GOLDILOCKS!!!! HATE THAT PLACE!!!! … I love pan de sal. I just cannot get over it.

    In-n-Out is da bes 4-stars. It could ahve been 5-stars were it not too salty for my palate. I’m not so amused with their pom fritte I prefer lunch trucks.

    Whatever happened to my U.P. friend imported from the Philuippines? Well, he is on H1B visa. If he resigns, he’ll be deported back to the Philippines. Nice move Jollibee!!!!

    • Joe America says:

      You have left me speechless. Mainly from rolling on the floor in rolling gales of laughter. Or pumping my fist in the air screaming “yes! yes!”. You should do food reviews, called the Irreverent Gourmand.

      The crawfish are more like the shell fish you love, but just DRESS like cockroaches to keep the people away. It doesn’t work so hot in the Southern States where they not only fry those guys but fish for giant catfish by sticking their fists under stumps so the creatures swallow them to the elbow. Some bait! Creepy in the extreme. My brother and I would “fish” for crawfish (we called them “crawdads”) by wrapping mud around an M-80 fire cracker (a miniature stick of dynamite) and tossing it into the irrigation ditch where it would perform much like a depth charge and send about 10 carcasses bopping to the surface. We fed them to the red ants.

      But I’ve since reformed.

  12. andrew lim says:

    My second post on this topic.

    As a rejoinder to your piece, I share my experiences with American food.

    1. Last time we went to the US, we made it a point to eat mostly American food- whether fast food, fine dining, casual, etc.

    Servings are terribly huge. Katz deli’s pastrami sandwich can feed two-three people. My favorite burger is Shake Shack. In and Out is nice and affordable. I have high respect for the quality of service in high end restaurants like Gramercy Tavern- they are highly efficient, knowledgeable and courteous. There is much emphasis on local ingredients, seasonality, freshness.

    After several meals of fine American food, I was craving for rice and ulam. 🙂

    2. Craft beers are the way to go. San Mig is still fine with me, but before I discovered craft, I couldnt understand how people could enjoy tasteless watery beers like Bud, Miller, etc. The good thing about beers is that they’re relatively easy to make, so local craft beer are also now available in Manila. (Indio Pale Ale, Bogs Brew, etc)

    • Joe America says:

      Ha, my family will likely go to the U.S. next year and I am ALREADY missing the Filipino food!

      It would be fun to develop the craft beer hobby, to search them out. I bet there are some very excellent brews.

      The best drink I ever had was a glass of ale bought for me by my “guide” in London at a pub across from Harrods. This was his set-up for ripping me off for $50 for a ticket to “Cats”. He said “You wait here, Joe. I’ll run upstairs and get the ticket.”

      Heh, heh. Never saw the guy or my $50 again.

      But it all made the glass of ale especially special, if just a tad expensive.

  13. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    Here is my wish. I wish the next President is a chef. Like, Commander-in-Chef. Philippines is fragmented by cuisine, language, geography, skin color, produce and religion … and “orientation”. If the next presidential candidates cooks for votes … we will never know agri-biz will be the cernterpiece not iPhone, iPad, … We’d be happy hwere we are right now … Nipa huts amongst rice paddies. Problem is they are campaigning like Americans kissing babies no wonder Erap-para-lahat-pantay-hERAP still have strong following because he eats with his hands food served on banana leaves and drink like a fish.

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