Are you a Foodie?
Are you not afraid to try local food from places you´ve visited?
It´s been such a long time and I haven´t eaten a decent typical “filipino food” for a while. Especially the homecooked ones and some traditional specialties. Yes I have tried some while living in Kuwait and some I´ve got here in the Asian stores in Germany but then, the taste of home is really missing.
Anyway, here I wanna share some of the exotic street foods you can find if happened that you visit Philippines. I was talking to my daughter and asking her if she wanna try eating “Balut”, crazy as it sounds but it´s only a boiled egg , where you will actually eat a cooked chicken embryo… with some feathers.Some enjoyed it being dipped it in vinegar with chillies or paired with a glass of beer . They say it´s nutritious, after all, it´s egg.If you´ve eaten or tried balut, then you have tasted Filipino culture. You are brave enough!
Balut is found throughout all of the Philippines and usually stored in small styrofoam boxes. Prices range from Php15 ($0.30) to Php25 ($0.50) depending on size and incubation time. My fond memories of Balut is that during late afternoons, just after dusk , the Balut vendor circles our neighborhood and shouts “Baluuuttttt! followed by “Penoy” , a normal hard boiled egg.I kinda remembered that it is sold by the vendor carrying it in a wooden basket and sold covered with newspaper, totally Filipino style.
My daughter answered and began shouting ” Neeeiiiiiinnnnn!
I got a definite answer. When something is unfamiliar, she won´t let it enter her mouth. If I put too much herbs on the meat and pasta, she would tell me.. “Mama, I want my meat and pasta to be clean, please not dirty“…so herbs are dirty now…” Lol!
So that reminds me of the “Kwek -Kwek” Fish balls, Kikiam and Fried Calamari. Kwek-Kwek are quail eggs or normal eggs dipped in a golden yellow Batter and deep fried, while Fish balls,Kikiam and Calamaris are frozen processed seafoods that are fried.Their smell in the street is so fragrant and I can almost tell when a nearby Food stall is within reach. I remember in my college days where we often stopped by to the Fish ball stand and indulge for a few pesos before heading to class!
While most of the street food in Philippines is based on meat and chicken, which are quite very basic there are also more vegetarian type, like the Vegetable Lumpia and my favourite Turon and Banana-Q! Just like the roasted chicken which is almost the same as the grilled chicken dishes served in Beer gardens, Volksfests and BBQ Parties, in Philippines, we have another version.
How about grilling the inner parts like the intestines and liver parts of chicken and pig, roasted in an open charcoal grill until charred. It is best enjoyed dipped in a sweet and sour sauce, vinegar with chillies or without! A local drink we called “palamig” or fruit punch with gelatin or “Sago” is the perfect combo for this simple meal.The huge colorful containers filled with yummy drinks with different flavours will surely quench your thirst. Be aware though that what is unique about palamig is that it´s served in a plastic with a straw, and not in a normal plastic cup. Again, Filipino way.
We have crazy names for street foods, the crazier, the better. And all of them are really authentic, just like another famous Pinoy Street food called “Adidas” ( grilled chicken feet) !?Nothing is waste, even the chicken feets are used.
Some might raise their eyebrows and says “What is that??” or even shrieks at the sight or smell of it, but hey, it´s what makes this place unique, and so does its taste! My daughter rolled her eyes when I show her a photo of our infamous “Betamax” …BBq-ued blood!
Or what about eating some spicy, crunchy, and edgy “Betamax“? It´s called Betamax because it resembled like the old style of Betamax tape.Altough it´s made up of blood, it doesn´t taste blood at all. Again, perfect to eat it while dipping in a spicy sweet vinegar sauce.
Weeks ago, I have watched some Foodie series in Netflix like Street Food, Salt,fat, Acid , Heat, and I actually loved it. I got so fascinated by different food cultures and I began to rekindled what have I ´ve been eating for the last 10 years of my life??
Living in Germany have taught me how to eat using knives and forks, seldom spoon. I grew up eating and using only spoon and fork. We are not so particular with using knives. With us, everything can be sliced with forks and yes, use your teeth. In a “Boodle Food Fight” like the photo above, we used our hands, clean hands of course.
As I observed here in Germany where most fishes are already cleaned, scaled and washed, you cannot even see other parts, only the meat or flesh of the fish matters. Most of the time, or young children only knows Lachs, (salmon) or Fischstäbchen ( fish sticks). Very clean and appetizing.
I could imagine the Horror in my husband´s face when I ask him to eat a “Tilapia” fish, roasted and fried, with tails and head. He doesn´t even know where to began. In a Boodle Food Fight, the whole table is full of different food ,set up in big banana leaves, with different side dishes like fishes, seafoods, fruits, and meat. Of course, a pile of rice should be plenty.The more, the merrier.
Would you even dare to eat with a Boodle Fight?
Or what about the Lechon, the infamous Roasted Pig, the king of every occasion ?
In every occasion, when a big Lechon is on the Table, it would be awesome. Sometimes I think its the national dish of the Philippines while here in Germany it´s their Sausages (Würst). It´s actually the star of every occasion. The word Lechon came from Spanish and actually means a “suckling pig”. There are also other dish variants such as “lechon kawali.
When a baby turns 1, roasted pig, or a smaller part Pork Belly or Pig´s head should be present on the table.In rural provinces, rearing a pig early and preparing to butcher it for a child´s birthday is very common.I don´t know exactly how this tradition originated but I grew up seeing this in every family gathering. It´s part of Filipino culture. On the downside, when you don´t have Lechon, it seemed like your Budget cannot afford it, or you just don´t want to splurge, or simply, avoid “Fatty” foods.
But when there´s Lechon, the fun begins. It´s dressed up with an apple stucked in his mouth, and it doesn´t stay that long in the table because it will be devoured easily.
If you´re more into seafood, in Philippines there are plenty of clams and oysters. I am not so much of a fan of them but theres the black version I have tried when we are still living in the province of Albay, we called it “Tabagwang“. it is cooked with coconut milk and it´s quite tasty.
I grew up in a culture where food really is a great part of our everyday lives. Imagine, eating 3 meals a day, and most of them with a cup of rice. Merienda, or “snack” is composed of other foods made up of glutinous rice, our local versions of noodles like Pancit and Bihon, and some bread.
Eating out in restaurants, there´s a traditional preference for Filipinos. A lot of well done cooked meat, either beef or pork, rich with vegetables and delicious soup, all in one pot. It´s called “Bulalo“.
Bulalo is a very rich and warm dish and oftenly enjoyed during family gatherings. I remember eating it on weekends and with plenty of rice and fish sauce on the side. It has fresh greens like beans, cabbage, corn and lots of onion. The beef is so tender and the meat is actually falling out from the bones. It is super tasty. Even with teh soup itself, it´s already a complete meal.
So, which of the food above would you love to try? or you bet you won´t dare to try?
What have yo´ve been eating for the last 5 years of your life?
Until then, stay safe and wishing you a happy week!