Last month, my family and I were fortunate enough to take a 3-week trip to Cherry’s country of birth, Philippines. She’s been back several times over her lifetime and this was my second trip, so it wasn’t totally foreign to me. However this time around I had a much greater appreciation of the entire experience. I like to tell myself it’s because I’m older and more mature. Cherry’s family is from the central province of Pangasinan, on the main island of Luzon. Her mother still has a home in the Sugcong barangay of the Pozorrubio municipality, which is where we stayed. We spent a majority of our days going to the ili (pronounced ee-lee), which is the central hub of each municipality, and nights with family drinking – Tang or brandy.
Now join me on a photographic journey of the things I ate and places I visited!
* unless noted, most everything was home made
** 1 US dollar = 40-44 pesos
These three dishes are very common breakfast meals in the Philippines. If you couldn’t tell by the pictures, breakfast consisted of rice (a staple), a protein (usually fried) and a vegetable. Depending on what was available the protein and vegetable changed each day, however tomatoes and shrimp paste were always on hand!
These were breakfasts offered at Burby’s Grill. The tocino was average and the achara (papaya salad) was too sweet. The chorizo was pretty horrible. It had no flavors of any seasonings and the only flavor I picked up was vinegar.. too much of it. The fried plantains were pretty good though.
In terms of number of locations, Chowking is like the Starbucks of the Philippines. The food is cheap, will fill you up and they’re open 24-hrs a day! Not exactly my idea of Chinese food, but for under $3 U.S. I’m not complaining :)
Mang Inasal an extremely popular fast food restaurant known for their barbecued chicken. The chicken is tasty and well cooked with a mildly sweet glaze. It’s very common to dip your chicken in sauce comprised of soy, calamansi juice and hot chlili peppers. This meal comes with unlimited rice but you can opt to not have unlimited rice and save yourself 10 pesos.
Jollibee may be the most recognizable Filipino fast food restaurant, and like Chow King, they’re open 24hrs a day and on every street corner. The picture above pretty much sums up how the meal was. Both the polobok and fried chicken were average at best but satisfied my hunger. One thing I’d like to note is that Jollibee is busy… staggeringly busy. It doesn’t matter the time nor location, there will be a crowd.
This meal is from a roadside eatery. My mother-in-law paid for the meal so I’m not exactly sure how much it was. If I were to take a guess, I’d say around $35peso per plate. These types of eateries are also very popular in the Philippines. When you enter, you’re met with a plethora of covered pots and pans filled with various stews, meats and veggies for you to choose from. After you make your selection, the server plates it and serves you with a plate of rice. The beef was on the chewier side and the flavors of the vinegar overpowered everything.
Cherry’s cousin treated us to this lunch at a Lisland Rainforest Resort in Urdaneta City. It was a beautifully presented meal and most everything was delicious. I especially enjoyed the fried shrimp which were crispy and enjoyable to pop in your mouth. The bbq skewers were also delicious. The glaze had a good balance of sweet and savory. The noodles on the other hand, were underwhelming. It looked pretty but the the ingredients literally sat atop a hard noodle cake. I felt like I needed a knife to cut a portion out. The icing on this noodle cake was the seasoning that seemed to be sprinkled all over. Three words: Chicken Top Ramen.
The picture above was a very typical dinner each night as well. Like breakfast, it usually consisted of a protein and a vegetable. Often times we ate the exact same thing for both breakfast and dinner. They call the chicken above “native” chicken because it wasn’t farmed. They literally went into the backyard and killed one for dinner. It was definitely very tough and much chewier.
The following two pictures show preparations for a celebration. In the barangay’s, celebrations involve a family hosting a huge dinner for the entire barangay (dozens of large families) to celebrate a wedding, anniversary or any other momentous occasion. Needless to say these types of dinners are not a regular occurrence.
to be continued…