Entertaining foreign buyers with balut

Published January 31, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

    Nelly Favis-Villafuerte
Nelly Favis-Villafuerte

Many of us love to eat boiled duck egg called “balut” as well as use fish sauce (called bagoong in the native parlance) to add flavor to our food. Since childhood we have been exposed to these two native delicacies. While bagoong used to be associated only with Ilocanos in the past – this is not true anymore. Practically all the regions in our country today use bagoong in its different variations (using fish or small shrimps) to highlight the flavor of local dishes especially but not limited to the pinakbet dish which originated in the Ilocos region.

Similarly, boiled duck egg which is popularly known as balut is the favorite of many of us, young and old. I remember when I was staying in a lady’s dorm (then called the South Dorm) in the University of the Philippines compound in Diliman, Quezon City during my college days – many of us staying in the dorm used to eat balut every late afternoon outside the dorm. The balut vendor was selling hundreds of balut everyday because balut eating became a social occasion for us to unload our tension during our campus days.

In short, bagoong and balut are already part of our social culture and our eating habits. There is nothing wrong with this reality. People from other countries have also their own eccentricities and eating habits that we consider weird.

But when Filipino exporters practically force their foreign buyers to try eating balut and bagoong – this is a different story.

One British buyer said: “Yes, I love the products of my Filipino supplier of ceramics. But forcing me to eat a half-incubated duck embryo which looks like a mini monster to me – oh, oh – I cannot do it. I remember too when I was in China and I was asked to try a Chinese dish that I cannot take. To please my Chinese supplier, I ate the food. What happened next is too embarrassing to narrate. I just spilled up all over the place.”

Another French buyer who was more adventurous took bagoong in a very unconventional way. He used it as a filling for his sandwich. Not used to the smell of the bagoong (foul-smelling to many foreigners) – the buyer after taking a few bites of the sandwich ran to the bathroom.

The message that I am trying to convey to our exporters is simply this – it is alright to invite your foreign buyers to taste some of our local dishes – but not force them to do so. This is not hospitality anymore. We should not practise martial law in our social interaction and entertainment of our foreign buyers.

Have a joyful day!

(For comments/reactions please send to Ms. Villafuerte’s email: [email protected])