Nothing tastes like Filipino

Published January 20, 2018, 4:05 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

By AA Patawaran


Fresh Spring Roll of Heart of Palm Traditional Lumpia Sauce Chimichurri Sauce

In Paris, I walk the length of Lafayette, looking for rice or some Oriental noodle. I see no Eiffel nor have I any longing for raclette. Lunchtime or dinnertime I’d ignore even the cutest poodle. Please, please, I’d give anything for p’akbet.


Clear Chicken Coconut Soup in Buco Shell with Lemon Grass Infusion

So cold in Stockholm, and my tropical soul is frozen. So far away and so not myself, how I wish for binakol or tinolang chicken—or any dish that would remind me of home, chicken soup for my soul. To my eyes, tears come unbidden.


Ox Tripe and Tail in Peanut Sauce Native Vegetables, Green Mango, Bagoong

Goulash on the table, and some Hungarian beer, I’m in love with Budapest, but the brown stew reminds of me home and kare-kare with bagoong.


Bangus Fish Belly with Ampalaya in Vinegar

In New York, I walk into The Plaza or, either that, I settle for coffee at the Waldorf Astoria. All that is nice, until I start thinking of kangkong na ginisa. After three days in New York, I’d start craving for beef sautéed with ampalaya. I love New York, all these places I read about, I hear about, I dream about but when my life turns sour on days that are cold and gray, I fantasize about my mother’s paksiw na bangus and how I used to eat it with my mukhasim face.


Oven-Roasted Lechon Baboy Set on Paella Rice

I swear I am a fan of tzatziki, more than a dollop of which I eat with my souvlaki, grilled pork in a skewer or served in a pita wrap with a lovely garnish of tomatoes, onion, and parsley, but even in Athens, I can only take so much of this Hellenic dish mentioned in the ancient texts of Homer, Aristophanes, Aristotle, and Xenophon. To my palate, it is no match to sinigang na baboy that I can eat every day with plenty of steamed white rice. Patis with siling labuyo, optional.


Ube Ice Cream and Macapuno

Home is no farther away anywhere than in Hong Kong or any busy, bustling city rising to the sky in steel, glass, or concrete, which Manila has become or is trying to be. Until then, until Manila becomes like any other city in the world, home is a long, lovely summer in the shade of a mango tree and happiness is two tablespoons of macapuno, two tablespoons of kaong, two tablespoons of nata de coco, two tablespoons of grated cantaloupe, some kamote, boiled overripe bananas, and sago at gulaman that you layer in a tall glass with shaved or crushed ice. Pour evaporada and top with langka, leche flan, and a scoop of ube, vanilla, or mango ice cream.


Coffee or Tea Pastillas, Cashew Tart, Coconut Macarons

Anywhere in the world, even in those places of which we dream, there is always the call of home and, very likely, the call resonates with memories of meals seldom served course by course, of meals often served family style, served to be shared, salty, sour, bitter, spicy, and umami laid out like a feast and capped with mangoes from Guimaras, lanzones from Camiguin, piña from Bukidnon, pomelo from Davao, pakwan from central Luzon, avocadoes from the Cordilleras, strawberries from Baguio, and pili from Bicol, not to mention biko, bibingka, sapin sapin, guinataan, minatamis na kamote, and more—the many flavors of home sweet home.