By TARA YAP
ILOILO CITY — Ilonggos have a penchant for piping hot soups, no matter the weather.
No wonder the La Paz batchoy and the pancit Molo have crossed from the regional culinary map into the national culinary consciousness and even beyond the country’s 7,107 islands where Ilonggos have settled.
“Mahilig gid mag higup kaldo mga Ilonggo (Ilonggos like to sip a bowl of soup),” explains Marie Joy Rosal, a heritage and culinary advocate.
The La Paz batchoy is a noodle soup with its broth made from pork and beef bones with thin slices of pork meat, pork intestines, pork liver, and topped with bits of fried garlic and chicharon while the pancit Molo is a chicken-broth soup with pork dumplings.
The La Paz batchoy is literally noodle-based while the pancit molo is a dumpling-based albeit there are no actual noodles.
“I’m not too keen who is the original. These are products of communities,” Marie Joy told the Manila Bulletin.
In the case of La Paz batchoy, Marie Joy said the concoction can be traced to butchers from La Paz who could not find buyers for the bones and other scraps of pork and beef.
The scraps eventually became the ingredients for the slow-cooked broth.
It is long believed that the yellow noodle concept was taken from the Chinese.
The public has known the stories of Federico Guillergan Sr. of the famed Deco’s batchoy chain and Teodoro Lepura of Ted’s batchoy chain.
Both supposedly established their batchoy restaurants sometime in the 1930s, but there are many others.
The pancit Molo is a culinary product of local households in the district of Molo, which used to be a town and Iloilo’s old Parián (Chinatown).
Panaderia de Molo, probably Iloilo City’s oldest existing bakery, is one of the places to find pancit Molo.
But Dr. Kristine Treñas and Anna Maria Nava, granddaughters of the bakery’s founder Luisa Jason Sanson, said they cannot claim to be the first to make this soup that is also served during special occasions including Molo’s annual fiesta, which falls this month.
Nevertheless, Panaderia’s pancit Molo recipe dates back to late 1800s.
Everything from the wrapper is made at the bakery. Kristine and Anna Maria says that one ingredient that sets apart Panaderia’s pancit Molo is the use of kusay (local chives) and not scallions.