Thursday, April 7, 2011

Local Food Specialties

Food and travel always go together.  When one is travelling either on official business or on leisure, he is not only exposed to the different tourist spots that the place is known for but also the kind of food that the place offers.  Filipinos, known for their hospitality, cook the delicacies of their town or province and it would offend their feelings if one declines.

I remember when our family went to Davao in 2009 for a much-deserved vacation, our hosts Edward and Rownee Braceros fed us with seafoods, fruits and vegetables that are synonymous with Davao.  Imbao, a seashell native to the Visayas and Mindanao was cooked tola-style.  Tola is a kind of soup wherein garlic, onions, ginger, moringa leaves and salt are added to the stock and imbao.  It brought out the real taste of imbao, not eclipsed by the taste of other seasonings.  It was the first time for us to eat imbao and we were not disappointed.  It helped that we are not picky with food and are adventurous to try new ones.

Products of Davao - tuna sashimi and tolang imbao
For our mission trip to Western Samar, our hosts from Gandara served us not only fresh catch of the sea but also cottage cheese made of carabao's milk.  Gandara's version is thinner and round compared to the ones that come from Laguna which are thicker and squarish.  I am not a lover of the local cottage cheese but I had more than one serving of this Western Samar delicacy.

Local food helps a lot in learning the history of a place. Just by looking or tasting the different ingredients that go into a dish, one can picture what is abundant and what grows in the place.  The Bicol region is known for its spicy coconut-based dishes.  When you look around the surroundings, you would see tracts of land planted to coconut.  Majority of the dishes, be it seafood, chicken, meat or vegetable based, are cooked in coconut milk.

Bicol Express
Cosmopolitan Manila, on the other hand, has several food establishments catering to the different palates of its residents who come from all parts of the country.  Eateries could either be offering regional specialties like Saisaki and Mangan or could play around a theme like Bagoong Club.  Some restaurants have included in their menu samplers of the different dishes that they are offering.  From one order, one can savor three to four different viands in pint size versions of the original.  When a certain eatery that I go to has a sampler, I never fail to order this.  I am able to taste the best of what the eatery has to offer at a one time visit.

Max's Restaurant's Dessert Sampler
Mangan's Merienda Sampler
Chocolate Kiss' Cake Suite
Truly one has a lot to learn from the food of a certain place.  It not only satisfy one's gustatory cravings but tells a lot about the place where it originated.

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