29 May 2009

Swedish Retro


I realized upon last night's dinner how much nostalgia is stirred in me by being in a Swedish dining hall. I was seeing a mirror of the effects on American sensibilities during the 70s and 80s, when they were possibly influenced by a wave of popular travels to the more northern European countries.

A sizzling dish of creamed potatoes and stuff.

And beside me, a dish swimming in some kind of gravy.

In a pre-Mediterranean-food-ubiquity era, sizzling plates and creamy potato dishes ruled the "gourmet" scene, and rounded, caramel-colored wood was the norm.

Space-saving strangeness.

21 May 2009

Local Peanut Butter

A typical glass of peanut butter, using the typical peanut butter font in a carinderia.

Peanut butter in the Philippines is one of the few things that is still sold in reusable glasses (with caps). I can only speculate as to why this remains so. One obvious possibility is that peanut butter in our country is an introduced, largely unnecessary foodthing, and a glass might make it all worthwhile. Another is that our local peanut butter is quite thin in consistency and behaves almost like a very thick fluid-- it will leak out any reasonable jar, and a glass is something you would never ordinarily tip over or lay on its side.

19 May 2009

Foot Job

Another outdoor mani-pedi sighting. Vendors can't leave their stalls and carts, so the nail grooming brigade makes good numbers in public markets.

18 May 2009

Banana King

A sea of bananas, if I ever saw one.

An Asuncion saba banana dealer shows us his goods.

Tattoos: Pinoy ako ("I am Pinoy") and our flag's stars and sun.

16 May 2009

Beans in Quiapo

Various sugars, various beans. Note the "suya" beans.

A beautiful sight in Quiapo for a bean and legume lover.

With eggs on the side.

14 May 2009

Reuse, Nunnery Style

Like little pieces of art welded on to the standard nipple-like covers.

This mamang sorbetero at Assumption Antipolo convent and school area uses attached broken bell pieces as handles for the ice cream compartments of his roving "dirty ice cream" cart.

To lure children to his cart, he uses a tiny altar bell instead of those classroom bells.

13 May 2009

Sidewalk Crawlies

Laid out on a piece of fabric by the MRT station, for easy packing and setting up.

Plastic creepy crawlies for sale at 5 pesos each on this Pasay sidewalk. It's amazing how random street merchandise can be these days-- from fishing rods to power tools to mechanical dogs that do backflips. Makes you wonder about the personalities of those who invest in such products.

Cockroaches and centipedes.

11 May 2009


Chop garlic and ginger.

What would Bicol be without laing? Probably still a region with many other good things to eat. But not the same, as everyone who goes there is just so damn eager to finally eat some of it while actually in Bicol.

Our friends told us this wasn't even "special" laing, because it was made for a large group. They were unable to pinpoint what "special" exactly was, except something that tasted better than this, which tasted pretty good in itself:

Still chopping. More ginger than garlic.

Squeeze grated coconut to extract the milk.

You get the gabi leaves in with some little shrimp and the thinner milk, then after a bit put the creamier stuff.

Mix mix.

Zoom in.


05 May 2009

May You Be A Generous Prude

Signs around the Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria church in Paracale.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

Another one about giving: Leviticus verse about tithes.

Put courtship in its proper place, not in the church!

04 May 2009

Paracale Eats

A Paracale carinderia.

Camarines Norte is the first province of Bicol you hit when you're a Tagalog coming at it full-speed.

Rice, chicken curry, my second sinantol in two days.

The language is not the typical sort in the region, as it is affected by the large presence of people from adjoining Quezon. However, early chronicles from our friendly Spanish colonizers included Paracale as part of the Tagalog region. Makes you wonder about who defines the regions, eh? Stuff like this aside, though, the liberal use of chili, gabi (taro) leaves, lots of vegetables, and all those tiny shrimp remind you that you are indeed in Bicol, as you somehow imagined it to be.

Shrimp and garlic being prepared by the women.

Ampalaya, carrots, red and white rice.

Boiled camote and suman.

And, of course, there is the coconut milk. It is true, what they say. Once, I asked my friend, who is a local what was for lunch, and he joked, "Guinataang gata (Coconut milk cooked in coconut milk)".

Bottles of fermented shrimp, lemongrass, and what I thought was kamansi. My Bicolano friends claim it isn't kamansi. What the hell is it? No one can tell me for sure.

We stayed in Paracale, a laid back, historical-yet-nondescript town along the northern coastline of Daet. This meant a lot of fresh seafood. I suppose the notoriously wet and stormy weather of the area makes root crops and fruitmeats particularly common, as they are not easily damaged by the weather.

Some fish being cleaned.


Little shrimp were also everywhere-- in the form of a pinkish fermented assemblage called balao, as well a dark purple cake of more pungent, ground ones called dinaelan. Sort of like a large stinky polvoron cut into triangular slices.

Dinaelan triangles.

Kekiam, fishballs, beside a deep-fried sweet snack.

Selling assorted fermented shrimp things, and different colored gelatin for halo-halo.

There were also those meriendas. Steaming cups of lugaw and guinataang mais to warm you when the coastal winds blew too cold and the rain came in through your tent. Make sure to get a jar of santan along the way to smear on slices of bread or suman.

Guinataang mais at camote. Mmm...

Santan. My Bicol friends claim it isn't coco jam, but that's what it seems like to me.

03 May 2009

Mining Town

Dennis, and Superman logos.

Paracale is a mining town, with the usual prostitution and small jewelers. Though it produces gold, the craftsmen work with silver as well. One of our trike drivers proudly pointed out his "927 silver" rings and a bracelet.

Emily is his wife. There is also a large, ghetto fabulous, calligraphic "D".

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