Eat’s about time & random bites: Our new abnormal (XVIII)

Published October 17, 2020, 5:07 PM

by Philip Cu Unjieng


Philip Cu Unjieng

1) In the Eat of the Moment

If there’s an industry hard hit by the COVID virus and community quarantines it would be the restaurant industry. Food in itself is still a mainstay of our consumption patterns, so those who offer deliveries and take-outs have found ways to survive and/or stay relevant – especially when, since early on, these businesses were home-based and online. But the grim realities of running food outlets, eateries, and restaurants; with the operational costs of monthly overheads, rentals, and staffing became onerous burdens for their owners. Many have had to bitterly accept closures or surrender to acquisition, rather than facing the continuous drain on their resources.

Big restaurant chains had longer ropes to cling to and survive; but at the rate it’s going, it may mean the inevitable fall will just be a heavier one. Some areas that thrived like crazy before the pandemic, such as Poblacion in Makati, are struggling to keep their heads above water – and it doesn’t help that more than one establishment there was fined just earlier this month for not following social distancing protocols. Those few stubborn apples will put the others who are complying in danger of being shut down again, should some outbreak be traced to that area.

For a number of restaurants that are stand-alone or situated at malls, I’ve noticed how having al fresco tables, are proving to be popular – fueled, I’m certain, by the notion that being in an open-air setting will always be safer than dining within the confines of an air-conditioned interior… At Blackbird, for example, the outside tables during Sunday lunch are always in great demand. At the malls, the food establishments have banded together, such as RestoPH, to form a unified voice in airing concerns, solutions, collaborating with the malls, and helping each other.

Mercato at BGC’s 7th Avenue reopened yesterday; and it should be interesting to see the health and safety protocols being zealously followed by the organizers, stakeholders, and their patrons. I’m certain the news that Mercato has reopened will be welcomed by the rank and file of BGC, who have traditionally been limited in terms of weekend dining options, and regarded Mercato as one of their most popular go-to’s. The Mercato vision and advocacy has always been about acting as an incubator for food start-ups and food-related SME’s to thrive. The various stall-holders will be collectively breathing a sigh of relief that the Task Force Safe City Taguig have given the green light for Mercato’s reopening.

As for the photo I’ve picked to be part of my column today, it comes from FB, and I loved it for showcasing the Filipino’s indefatigable capacity for mining humor out of any situation, no matter how dire or unsettling. I was laughing by myself, wondering if the food was to be inserted up your nose and inhaled – just so it stays in theme with the “Swab Taste.” I have no idea where this photo was taken or the vendors behind the stall; but if any advertising company is on the lookout for a marketing genius, a savvy wordsmith, or an imaginative conceptualizer – they can do the research and now know where to headhunt.

While many of us are still apprehensive about venturing out; if there is some favorite eatery or resto you’ve been pining for or dreaming about, NOW is the time to show your support. So many of them are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Whether ordering for delivery, for take-out, or physically dining in because their safety protocols are in place, these establishments badly need our patronage. Otherwise, they’ll be a casualty of this pandemic, relegated to “What happened to so-and-so restaurant? I loved their.. (insert your favorite dish here). I have so many good memories of dining there.”

2) L Is for Rabbit

Will somebody please confirm that our Department of Education Learning modules truly have such colossal editing blunders as ‘L Is for Rabbit’, that a picture of an Owl is captioned Ostrich, and that a slide asking students to identify the colors of a box of crayons is in vivid, rainbow-hued Black & White? Coming from the arena of content creation, I can understand that inevitably, some oversights can and will happen in the proofreading and editing stage of any massive work.

Quite often, I’ll read novels from big and reputable publishing houses abroad, and stumble across a misspelled word, or a missing punctuation mark. Human error is an inescapable fact of life, and I’m so ready to forgive and forget. But “L Is for Rabbit” has got to take some trophy in a topsy-turvy, tipsy universe of Mistakes We’ll Never Live Down. I almost spat out my bite of breakfast, and my stomach hurt from laughing, when I read about those editing “faux pas.” If it turns out to be fake news, can I just say here that I vote to live in a fake world where this really happened? Too funny!