Time for a bite.

Yum yum, Lechon.
The next instalment of the blog involves my trip to Siquijor Island, alternatively known as Isla del Fuego or Isle of Fire and it really is an epic worthy of Homer or some of those ancient types.  You won't believe it and it is going to take hours to write and publish (internet connection is slow here) so I'll leave that for another day.  To give you an idea, the last post took me over three hours to get together.  Have you ever imagined how the ancient and more modern writers would have fared in the modern world.  What about Herodotus's travel blog of North Africa?  Anyone for Shakespeare's latest tweet?  Realistically, they would be eclipsed by news of Britney Spears latest rehab episode or the antics of some desperate educationally challenged semi-literate nobody on Big Brother.  Makes you think, doesn't it?  If it doesn't, it should.

Thai soup, Makati, Manila.
 I digress, as usual.  I am just going to trawl my photos now and give you a flavour (pun absolutely intended) of some of the food I have had here in the Philippines.  Some of you will know that I love eating and cooking.  Actually, I probably love cooking more than eating.  I had read before coming here that travellers find the Philippino food uninspiring and too Western for their taste.  I feel the country suffers in comparison to Thailand, Lao, Cambodia etc. in that respect.  The cuisines there are superb as you can see on my blogs from my last big trip. 

Add caption
 There is a suggestion, often almost an accusation the way other people write on websites and in book, that Philippino cuisine has been oblitereated by American influence.  This in itself is hardly surprising as the Americans effectively ran the country for something like 45 years and had a huge presence for many more.  They still do.  Actually, I eat very well here.  Certainly, I will eat hamburgers and pizzas but I can always find some local food if I want it.  Actually, the locals seem to prefer rhe "Western" food on many occasions.  One of my favourite restaurants here in Dumaguete features Mexican cuisine very heavily on the menu.  I do not know if it is authentic or not, never having visited Mexico, but it is extremely tasty.

Don't bother.

Really, really don't bother.
We'll get the bad stuff out of the road first.  I shall explain how I am doing this post.  I am going chronologically through my photos which are arranged on a daily basis so I don't miss anything.  Thinngs therefore may lack a little cohesion.  The above is the only bad meal I have eaten in the whole of the Philippines.  Certainly, some have been better than others but this was the only one that I left as being inedible.  I suffered this, and I use the word advisedly, on Boracay which is really just a tourst trap, beautiful as it is.  Admittedly, it was pretty late but I suspect Pirelli tyre rubber would have been more palatable and certainly more chewable.  I have left meals unfinished purely by virtue of the fact that the portion would have finished three men but this was purely inedible.  I name the guilty party as Andok's in D'Mall, Boracay.  Avoid at all costs.  It was doubly galling as, fairly new to the country, I reckoned this might be the only place open at that time of night.  Wrong.  There were at least another three places open that looked really good.  Ah well, live and learn.

Breakfast at, and with, Frendz.
By contrast, breakfast the next day was wonderful and serves to illustrate a point.  Philippinos will always eat rice.  Rice for breakfast, dinner and tea, it is just a matter of what they have with it.  I rarely eat breakfast myself as my digestive system does not really kick in until about four hours after I rise, whatever ridiculous hour that may be.  I understand the Contnental European concept of fruit with breakfast but we would normally serve it seperately.  Not so here, as you can see.  The succulent mango was served along with the scrambled eggs and bacon (memo to self, do this at home),, toast etc.  Like just about everything else here, it sounds odd but it works.

I'll skip the next few images as they are of the simply beautiful meal that Buena treated me and Greg to in Bacolod, I've posted them already.  The next one is not so much food as a drink that I really want to try to replicate when I get home.

Ginger and lime drink.
This is billed on the menu as a ginger and lime drink, although I am willing to bet that it was not lime but calamnsi.  I will explain calamansi later but suffice to say this was almost stupidly refreshing and just what was needed after a very hot and fairly draining trip round an endangered species park that I have already written about.

Fish tempura.
Warning to all Westerners, and pay attention here.  The concept of a light snack does not exist especially if you are eating solo.  I went into a place I know in the back end of Bacolod and fancied a little bite.  Althugh the place was billed as a rib place with a slightly Mexican influence, they had a selection of Japanese style dishes.  I thought a fish tempura would go well woth a beer before I went out to eat properly, well the image tells the story.  It was a meal in itself.  I have no idea what the fish was, but it was meaty, like a very good quality cod, the batter was suitably light and crunchy and it was very toothsome as Bertie Wooster (or P.G. Wodehouse) was very fond of saying.  Obviously the presence of the nearly empty bottle of San Mig Light is purely coincidental.  I would have cropped the photo but having spent about an hour today unsuccessfully tryng to do such a thing, I have given up.

They call it breakfast.

A MacDonalds by any other name.
OK, OK, before you all go getting terribly jealous which, frankly, was half the idea of this post, it is not all Michelin starred and lovely.  One of the very first things I saw in the taxi from Manila airport was a Jollibee "restaurant".  I have placed the term restaurant in inverted commas for a reason.  On the journey to nearly my place (the taxi driver dropped me at completely the worng cemetery) I must have seen at least another ten of the places.  This is MacDonalds / KFC Philippino style.  Sadly, both of the named culinary obscenities (sue me if you can find me!) are strangling this lovely country with their disgusting generic slop and it appears that some savvy business man, undoubtedly of Chinese origin, has opened this chain.  At four in the morning it is edible, not sure if I fancy it in daylight.

Did I say the meal in Boracay was the worst?  Mmmmm, that is probably a moot point.  I went to a place one night in Bacolod and was served this.  It looks lovely although the sauce tasted like semi-congealed seawater, I have never in my life attempted to eat such an overseasoned meal.  Bloody disgusting.  Avoid Ting Tings.

Treat with caution.
I don't want the occasinal reader to get the impression I have a downer on Philippino cuisine, I do not.  I love eating here and a couple of unfortunate experiences are not going to put me off.

Who says you can't have it all?
Next night, I had arranged to meet Buena and Gregg in a place called Shakey's.  Again, another Western themed place specializing in pizza and pasta etc.  The menu stated, "Don't know what to eat, why not have it all?"  Sounds like a plan to me.  As the image shows, a bit of pizza, spag. bol., fried chicken and a bit of what was billed as a Caesar salad, which was nothing of the sort but was damned tasty all the same.  It even came with a delicious bowl of chicken and corn soup and all for under three quid ($5US for any overseas readers who might stumble in here.)   Great stuff.

This post has taken rather longet than I expected and I need to go off and check out the culinary delights of Dumaguete City once again so I shall sign off now and resume this later.  Believe me, dear reader (the singular is deliberate) there is a whole epicurean world yet to come.

Speak soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment