Feeling nostalgic, nostalgic feeling
We were on our way to Bulacan yesterday when I saw a row of ihaw-ihaw vendors near that certain church in Obando. I yelled, “Uy, gusto ko ng isaw!” Then my mom looked at me evilly and quickly logged into some forum that those foods are “unsanitary,” that the preparations were out of question, blah blah blah. But then my dad saved everyone from being skewered by my mom. “Sige, bumili muna kayo ng ate mo. I-park ko lang itong sasakyan sa dulo.” The traffic was very bad – a typical phenomenon in the locale – so I was right when I guessed that by the time we finished eating we would still be stuck in the same exact position as we were.
A motley assortment of innards was in store for the would-be customers. Giant pieces of pig’s ears, pig’s skin, pig’s kidneys, pig’s intestines, chicken feet, chicken hearts, liver, chicken heads, and blocks of brown stuff. I particularly like isaw – chicken variety – and the thing known as Beta Max, which is either cow’s or pig’s blood. It may sound creepy and icky for the neat freaks out there, but I haven’t actually heard of anyone who acquired some illness by just consuming large amounts of the stuff. My sister got herself humongous chunks of isaw baboy and the cartilaginous parts of a pig’s ears, i.e. tenga. She pointed at something skewered, and they resemble little black balls. I said it’s called bato, i.e. chicken kidneys, I think. She asked me, “Ano ‘yung bato?” I replied, rather stupidly, “Rock.”
I remember my Art Studies professor when he noted something about street foods and Filipino culture. We Filipinos overindulge in the concept of conservation that we apply in almost every thing. For instance, food preparation. We care much about the left over but still edible innards of slaughtered poultry and other livestock that we collect, cook, and sell them as food merchandise. In the States restaurants would only serve the meaty parts, and then they saw how cunning the Filipinos are in the art of cooking that they, too, slowly accepted and imitated the way we prepare food – but still no one compares with the Filipinos. This seemingly innate profession of practicality is the same exact trait that would never leave us hungry.
After this bacchanalia my sister and I returned to our van, trying not to look back or else we’d have another impulsive urge to eat. The traffic was still not in a good state, but my dad had already thought of a strategy; he’d make his way through the one-way street, but for one problem. Our van is the biggest land vehicle that moment, and taking the one-way street would mean acquiring the whole street by ourselves. And so we took the long way instead. Sometimes cunning doesn’t work with traffic.