Saturday, January 15, 2005

Our Food

When talking with people from other countries, I've noticed that one thing consistent was that they've not come across a Filipino restaurant, or if they have, it was one patronized only by Filipinos, and they've only eaten there because a Filipino invited them over.

This is a contrast to the Philippines, which has popular American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Persian restaurant chains. There are even more nations represented by specialty establishments. I've come to the conclusion that eating something new is higher on the Pinoy priority list than sharing with others the things we eat.

If I were to open a restaurant in another country, or have a stranger try out food that I think is quite Filipino, these are my choices.


Chicharon – We can go with the wonderfully meaty chicharon Cebu, or chicharon bituka or bulaklak, which impart such a unique texture to the palate

Sisig - Crunchy and succulent all at once

Kinilaw - With an island country, take your pick from tanigue, swordfish, tuna, or even sea urchin. You can even toss in bits of kambing or inihaw na baboy.

Mushrooms, lited, or squid a la pobre - The garlic-laden gravy hissing and steaming on a hot plate


Adobo - Regular or tostado. For places with sensitivities to pork, e.g. Jakarta, Rhiyad, etc., kambing is a more than capable alternative for baboy

Caldereta - Lean chunks of beef or goat stewed to tender perfection in a rich sauce filled with chorizo de Bilbao, potatos, and bell peppers

Nilaga or bulalo – Our esteemed food critic Jet may not favor consommés or the like, but there is more than a bit of charm to the beef's subtle flavor, peppered, with a hint of onion and ginger

Tinola - Even more delicious with a native chicken

Bangus, squid, or tilapia - Charcoal-grilled and stuffed with chopped onions, tomatos, and ginger

Sinigang - The sour sampaloc is such an amazing complement to fresh bangus, hipon, or baboy
Kare-kare – I don’t really like bagoong myself, so I can’t properly appreciate this dish, but with its tasty peanut sauce and chunks of beef and lamang loob, I just can’t leave it off the list.


Monggo guisado with bits of tinapa

Side dishes

Taba ng talangka
Enseladang mangga
Itlog na maalat with kamatis


Puto bungbong
Buko pandan
Panyo-panyo pastries from Bacolod

Leche flan and halo-halo are fine, but they aren’t particularly unique.

Alcoholic beverages

San Miguel - Pale Pilsen, Light, Cerveza Negra. If only they still made Premium.

Tanduay - Superior or the recently introduced Premium

I'm sure there are a lot of local liquors out there that can be recommended, the drinks in clay jars that stay in the earth and are only dug up on special occassions, but I haven't been fortunate enough to try any.

I have tried good lambanog, but it just lacks the refinement for more formal social gatherings.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


The subject came up on our first week in Jakarta. "You know," my colleague said, "I just haven't gotten a sense of the local beauty."

He was an American of Egyptian descent. He spent almost all of his professional life in the Middle East. North America, the Middle East, Western Europe, this guy has been around and has seen all sorts of attractive women.

And now, Southeast Asia.

My own travels are nowhere near as extensive. But because of where I grew up and the few foreign countries that I have seen, I like to think that I too have had the pleasure of seeing different kinds of pretty girls, in different places.

Before I left Manila, I was told not to expect much in the way of good-looking females. Even female friends who had been to Jakarta said that. The few beauties that were there were reportedly hidden away like precious valuables.

After three days in country, I was starting to think that they were all right. That I shouldn't expect and the ones worth seeing were well and truly kept out of sight.

Then the subject came up. Apparently, I wasn't the only one getting concerned.

We've both recently been to Bangkok, so that's where we got to start talking. We both agreed that the Thai capital was a virtual confectionary for the eye-candy connoisseur

While comparing, he said that it looks like Indonesian women seem to have more personality. We both paused and looked at each other for a bit. "We've been here too long."

I said that we should plan a trip together to Bangkok, just for a weekend. We may need a refresher on how pretty girls are supposed to look like.

The locals don’t have any problem becoming attracted to one another, I imagine. There are over 200 million of them.

I guess people in this place were not meant for us to look or leer at. Good for them, maybe.

And perhaps it’ll turn out to be good for us as well. At the very least, it’s another thing to look forward to when going back home.