Food Loot from Baguio

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My sister’s friend has recently been to Baguio, considered the Philippines’ summer capital because the temperature there remains bearable during summer, and has brought home a couple of food pasalubongs for us to enjoy.

strawberry jam1

My favorite among the bunch happens to be the strawberry jam, well, strawberry preserves. The sugar drowns out whatever strawberry flavor there is in the syrup but the whole pieces of the strawberries make up for that. I’d have it with bread or hotcakes but sometimes I would sneak a spoon to the bottle and savor just the sweet fruit. We don’t get enough strawberries here in Bulacan, not as much as mangoes and other fruits anyway. The few that tend to end up in the market are quite costly, fruit and jam alike. Although during the cold months of January and February, strawberries from Baguio do tend to trickle down where we are.

peanut brittle1

One could get different kinds of peanut brittle in Baguio. Some with whole nuts, some chopped. Some with butter, others just the brown sugar. They come in discs wrapped in plastic or lodged in plastic containers. I prefer the buttery ones with chopped nuts. Primarily because we can easily get the disc-shaped ones that only have brown sugar and whole peanuts from the market.

ube lengua degato

Now this is a new one for me: ube flavored lengua de gato. I am an absolute fan of plain lengua de gato (See? my love for cats even extends to food. ) that it’s one of the food items I would purchase when I was in grade/high school even if just a small packet would eat up my allowance for the day. I love how it would melt in my mouth and leave behind sweet buttery goodness. Since Baguio is also known for its ube (purple yam) jams and halaya, it’s not surprising they now have ube flavored lengua de gato. Sadly the one we received was not melt-in-your-mouth nor buttery enough for me. The ube taste is there, if just a smidgen.

If you’re planning to get food pasalubongs  from Baguio, make sure to check your purchases carefully.  Once, we ourselves, were able to purchase a bottle of strawberry preserves with no pieces of strawberries in them. Just strawberry seeds and syrup. Another time, the container we got only had peanut brittle on the sides and bottom. It was hollow. No peanut brittle in the center. The sad part is that there’s no manufacturer’s name and contact details on the labels. Sometimes there’s no list of ingredients used in the products nor expiration date on the label as well. Attention DTI Baguio!

Mang Inasal and Goldilocks Dinuguan / Pork Blood Stew

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In my part of the world, a lot of us are not averse to eating cooked pig blood. I know there are a lot of people who like betamax or grilled pork blood squares. Myself excluded though. Find them not to my liking as they’re bland on their own. The taste is dependent on the sawsawan or dipping sauce. Now dinuguan is something I would not hesitate to eat often.

Dinuguan or pork blood stew is mainly pig blood, pork and/or offal, vinegar, garlic and finger chili. I prefer ones with pig’s intestines and added coconut cream. Yum. My dad used to make dinuguan right until my mom’s co-teacher who delivered fresh pork to us retired. Mom would tell her if dad will be making dinuguan and she would throw in pig blood for free. My parents are wary of using pig blood obtained from the market least it’s not fresh.

Since then we’ve been dependent on fastfood stores, restos and trusted eateries for our dinuguan fix. Two of those fastfood chains would be Mang Inasal and Goldilocks. Because how food tastes sometimes vary from store to store, I will be talking about the dinuguan served at Mang Inasal EDSA Taft and Goldilocks SM Marilao which I’ve had recently. mang inasal dinuguan Mang Inasal’s dinuguan does not have offal, only bite-size pieces of lean pork and not much fat parts. This may be the reason why it’s not oily. There’s a good amount of gravy – smooth and thick even if there’s no coconut cream.  It does not have a fishy taste – hindi malangsa. For me, it has the right amount of vinegar. Other people might think it’s a bit sour – sister does. It’s not spicy since the chili is not mixed into the stew. goldilocks dinuguan Goldilocks’ also has no offal but has more fat parts than Mang Inasal. I think this is why its gravy is much oilier.  The gravy, though slightly thinner than Mang Inasal’s, has chunky parts.  It also does not have a fishy taste and is not as sour as Mang Inasal’s. Like Mang Inasal’s, the chili is not chopped into the stew.

Between Mang Inasal and Goldilocks I am picking the former since I don’t like pork fat and I want plenty of gravy to drizzle unto my rice. I like that both fastfood stores have the green finger chili sitting on top of their dinuguan. This allows the customer to decide just how spicy he/she wants his/her stew to be. Mash it well for fiery hell or prick with your fork for a wee bit of a kick.

So how’s about serving dinuguan on Halloween  for dinner or for your party? There are a lot of dinuguan recipes on the net or you could just get some from stores. Remember to check your teeth after eating except if that’s really your goal, blackened teeth to compliment your Halloween costume.

Craving for Entrails and other Food Horror Stories

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It’s 11 PM where I am at, the moon obscured by dense clouds. So unlike a week ago when it was bright and full, right after it was swallowed by the snake in the sky. No, it didn’t turn blood red then. TV Patrol, an evening news program, sure fooled us when they claimed that they were airing live footage of the eclipse. Sure it was. Live NASA footage and nowhere near the Philippines. Grrrr.

Dogs at the end of the street have started barking. Must be an office worker, making his/her way home. Or another dog that managed to escape or allowed to stray from a neighbor’s house.

isaw

Earlier I’ve scored entrails from the vendor off the main road. Now I am currently satisfying my hankering for barbecued innards on a stick. Chicken intestines. Pig’s ears. Pig’s small intestines. I also wanted pig’s large intestines (or were they cow’s intestines?) but they’ve run out of that. One of these days I will write down the kinds of barbecued meat on a stick. The isaw vendor’s stall we frequent has a menuboard listing them along with their prices. They have crafty names, like betamax for blocks of congealed pork blood and adidas for chicken feet.  There was a new one, chicken innards which were neither livers nor gizzards but are rather tough to chew.

My brother would have shook his head. He’s into clean, healthy living ever since he graduated from college. A couple of my friends have looked at me with disdain one time I told them that I want isaw. From the looks of their faces, it would seem that they haven’t had them ever. I just hope food snobs know, as they sunk their teeth into a decadent chorizo, sausage, longanisa, that what they’re savoring is often intestine-encased ground meat.

I guess I understand their concerns. While in private school, teachers have incessantly warned us that street foods may not be prepared in hygienic conditions. I’ve thought that it was partly a ploy to get us to buy only from the school cafeteria and other food concessionaires. In all my stay, I’ve never heard of anyone who got food poisoned after eating food sold right outside school premises. But recently, a friend who teaches in a public school got typhoid fever. I have to admit that that made me less adventurous for a while.

Still, how sure are you that the food being served at diners are safe? I once had to tell a cashier at a local fastfood that something is dripping from their ceiling right into the container where they get ice for their drinks.

chicken isaw

Turns out that the person that set off the dogs earlier was sister. And wouldn’t you know, she also brought home a package of isaw. They’re from another vendor. The intestines coiled closely to the stick. What seems to be splatters of blood is actually tomato sauce added to the basting sauce. Now excuse me while I set to work on these.