Monday, November 21, 2011

BLOG 20: Thanksgiving Over the Past Few Years

As a way to wrap up this project, and since it is almost Thanksgiving, I decided to spend my last blog talking about my own experiences with Thanksgiving. I have only lived in the United States for five years, meaning that celebrating Thanksgiving is relatively new to me. However, I learned to love it very quickly. My family was thoughtful enough to give me a real Thanksgiving experience in my first year. And when I say real, I just mean Turkey and both apple and pumpkin pie, which are really the only things I know that are supposed to be present during a Thanksgiving dinner. Regardless, we had many other foods on the table and our bellies were happy by the end of the night. What I did learn was that I was actually not very fond of turkey. It thought it was much too bland and was not as good as chicken or ham or pretty much any other meat there is. To my luck, I find out that my family does not care much for turkey either. So on the second year, instead of spending a handful on a bird that no one enjoys, we decided to invest in ham. In the third year, there was very poor preparation and ended up eating a lot of Filipino food (it’s who we are, what we love, and we’re best at. Can you really blame us?) In the fourth year my sister and brother-in-law decided to go to a completely different route and prepared crab (very un-thanksgiving, but absolutely DE-LI-CIOUS). My mom then prepared shrimp, and scallops wrapped in bacon. Before you know it, our holiday had turned seafood themed. The previous thanksgiving was so successful that we plan to repeat the theme this year. So now that you think of it, thanksgiving in our family is not truly thanksgiving. It is simply an opportunity to gather around a beautifully set table with delicious yet untraditional food. But hey, at least apple and pumpkin pie has not been eliminated.

Though we don't like turkey, I'm sure we all know how this guy feels. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! :)

BLOG 19: My Everyday Street Food Growing Up

In my first blog, I touched a little bit on Filipino street food. For this entry, I want to take you into what food I enjoyed after school through the years that I lived there.

One of the few that I mentioned earlier was kwek-kwek. To refresh your memory, it is deep-fried quail eggs covered in batter. I used to go through twenty of these in one afternoon. Because they are smaller, it is much easier just to scarf down. Though I do not know how true it is, my friend has told me back then that in terms of calories, one quail egg would be equivalent to three chicken eggs. But then again, they also say that the things that are bad for you are always the things that taste better.

Another thing that people may find odd in the Philippines is how we would drink soda from plastic bags. For 2 pesos (more or less a nickel here in America), we buy our sodas at our local tindahan (basically convenience store along the street), and it is poured from the bottle to a plastic bag with a straw. This might not be as common anymore, since it has been years since I had one of those. But then again, it is also just one of those things that remind me of home.

This is how the soda in a bag would look like.

Lastly, we have something called ice candy. This is something that I would either buy at the store or make at my own time as a child. How we make it is that we get powdered juice, which can have a variety of flavors such as strawberry, grape, orange, etc. We put it in a skinny, test tube-shaped plastic, knot it at the top, and put it in the freezer until it turns to ice. After a few hours, take it out of the freezer, bite the tip to make a small hole, and enjoy your ice candy. It was especially delicious to grab one of those in those scorching days in the summertime. 
A variety of ice candy flavors

BLOG 18: My Special Ramen Noodles

Despite living at home, I still have my moments where I eat like a college student. Sometimes, I just do not have the time, and I do not expect mom to prepare us meals every single day of the week. As a result, have to resort to TV dinners or fast food. Because of the situation, we had to stock up on ramen noodles. In those times where my belly is grumbling and that is all we have left, my boyfriend taught me of a way to make my meals a little bit more interesting. Though we have yet to choose a name for it, for the meantime we shall call it “the Lazy Student’s Ramen Noodle.”

It starts with boiling in hot water until soft and then adding the packaged seasoning (of course). Typically, the beef flavored instant noodles is used. He then mixes in one egg, one slice of lemon, steamed chicken (optional), and a hint of tapatio sauce. Mix it well, and with that, you’re done! You have your instant noodles with a twist.  Yes, I do realize that it is very bad for me, but it is actually quite delicious. It worked out as a great hangover food one time and saved me from further misery. Maybe one day we will find a healthier way to make this. It will probably have a real name by then. But for now, you should give our “Lazy Student’s Ramen Noodle” a try. 

To be fair, at least it is much better than this stuff.

BLOG 17: We Make Most Out of Our Pork and Chicken

If you would not believe, there is actually a dish in the Philippines that I have not heard of, but how it’s made does not really come as a shock to me, because Filipinos love to use most of the food they make. I had just heard of something called pork maskara. Maskara, meaning mask, it is basically a dish that contains mainly the parts of the pig’s head. Every part of the pig’s head is chopped, including the ears, cheeks, and pretty much everything one can get out of it until only the skull is left. Pork insides, such as intestines and tongue are also usually mixed into the dish. It is then boiled with garlic, onions and ginger, before it is cooked. It is cooked with more garlic, onion, and ginger, in addition to soy sauce and oyster sauce. Maskara is a dish that most people in the Philippines enjoy while pounding down a few beers. This pork head can be found in many local Asian markets, which they will even chop for you as you buy it.

I know what you’re thinking, dishes with pig’s blood and scraps from pig’s head? Needless to say, it is kind of the same situation with chickens, from chicken feet to even chicken esophagus (called chicken buchi but this may not be as popular). These are usually grilled and painted with BBQ sauce and sold on the streets. We really do try to get every single scrap, don’t we? I mean it is true, why throw away a piece when there are still many culinary opportunities? To what most would find disgusting, we just see it as resourceful.

Chicken Adidas or Chicken Feet

BLOG 16: If I Were To Survive On Only Three Foods...

A given blog entry idea was to write about three foods you cannot live without. Or better, if I were to survive on only three foods what would they be? It was a tough decision, but I had found my final three:

1.) Rice – this does not really come as a surprise. Probably a good 80% of every meal in my entire life had rice. In fact, I remember there was one particular week a few years back where I did not have rice at all. I did not know what was wrong, but I just knew that I did not feel right either. The strange thing was my sister actually felt the same way. I think I have mentioned to people before that I could live off fried rice forever. To me, fried rice is pretty much an entire meal in a bowl. My favorite kind would be garlic fried rice. With that, I am complete.

Forever Food #1: Garlic Fried Rice

2.) Pasta – ok, so in what’s left of the 80% from earlier, probably 10% of it is pasta. I pretty much love pasta regardless of what dish. I like the texture and taste even when it’s not mixed with any kind of sauce (though I probably would not eat an entire meal with sauce-less pasta). I love spaghetti, fettuccini, and have a pretty steady love affair with pesto.

Forever Food #2: Pesto Pasta

3.) Bread – because really, who can survive without bread? Even back in biblical times, bread was kind of a big deal.  Bread is light enough to munch on, on the go, but heavy enough fill you up for a while. Actually, if given a choice, I much prefer French bread over any other bread there is. It has the taste, firmness, and the length that probably should last more than 4 days in my kitchen. French bread, to me, is perfect.
Forever Food #3: French Bread

BLOG 15: The Stinking Rose

A few weeks ago, I went on a small trip over the weekend to visit my boyfriend in Los Angeles. He knows that I had a thing for food that makes your mouth smell so for date night, he took me to a place called the Stinking Rose. Most people are well aware that the “stinking rose” is referred to as garlic. Why? The stink part of the title is clear. The restaurant website tried to explain the rose part either but basically… they don’t know either.
My boyfriend has heard a lot of buzz about the restaurant which is why he decided that we go there in the first place. Everyone has told him that we just had to get their popular appetizer, the “bagna calda.” It was garlic cloves toasted in olive oil and butter, creating a spread to be eaten with bread. I thought it was pretty good, although I did enjoy the other spread they served to us when we were seated. My boyfriend was also a little underwhelmed by the hype of it all.

The famous Bagna Calda

Then we had the Arugula Pesto (pretty much just pesto and pasta to me), and we each had the Garlic Roasted Prime Rib, which is served with mashed potatoes and spinach. The prime rib was absolutely delicious. The overall experience was a good one. It was a very uniquely decorated place a nice and cozy ambiance. But sadly, of all the food served there, if there was one thing that would make me come back, it would be for their strawberry mojito. If you want to try it out for yourself, they have a branch in San Francisco. 325 Columbus Ave, San Francisco.

BLOG 14: Chocolate Covered: Adventures in Chocolate and Whimsical Gifts

Last year, my family spontaneously found a sweet shop in San Francisco while taking my cousin around who was visiting from New York. The shop was small, quaint, and cozy, with name that explained it perfectly: Chocolate Covered. The shop contained varieties of delicious to oddly mixed pieces of chocolate. Among the oddball creations in the store was what we came to look for. My cousin had heard about chocolate covered bacon which had us all intrigued. You may be thinking of actual strips of bacon that was dipped in chocolate (as we had all pictured in our head). Apparently, that kind of chocolate-covered bacon is typically found in fairs. Around the area, they have them available in the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. But instead, we found a bar of milk chocolate with small bits of bacon, which I must say, is probably better than the actual chocolate-covered one. It had the perfect mix of salty and sweetness that did not overpower each other. 
Instead of this...

...we found this.

I had also purchased chocolate-covered edamame, and a dark chocolate with pistachios with a hint of spice. Also in the store was a collection of small charming gift boxes and vintage lunchboxes which would make perfect gifts if you wanted a sweet present for the holidays. Chocolate Covered is located at 4069 24th Street, San Francisco, between Castro Street and Noe Street.

*Photos grabbed from Yelp

BLOG 13: An American's Experience With Pig's Blood

Filipinos have been known for eating a lot of strange food: fertilized chick embryos, pig tongue, and apparently dog (which is pretty uncommon in our country but I will get to that in another entry). But this fact did not actually hit me until I dated an American.

A couple of months into dating, I figured it were the right time to introduce my then-boyfriend to the food of my culture. I decided to get him the “Filipino basics.” This would be chicken adobo, bistek, and turon for dessert. While enjoyed all three (not so much the bistek since I think I bought a bad batch but he said he thought it would have been good), I knew he was not as adventurous to try out something extreme. So as a “surprise,” I decided to get dinuguan, which most of us know as pig insides mixed with pig’s blood. I set the dinuguan in a bowl and set it on the table. He took one look at the dark brown chunky soup-like dish and was hesitant.

This is what the poor boy saw

“What’s that?” he says. “Just try it. Find out if you like it.” It was probably a little mean of me to not let him know what it was before he tried it, but I also knew that, that was the only way he would. And if anything, I wanted to take some sort of credit for exposing him to a little culture. So he took his spoon and took a small bite. “What do you think?” “I don’t like it.” “It’s pig’s blood.” The look of disbelief on his face was priceless. He put down the spoon, took a picture, and then called his brothers and their wives telling them of his horrible experience. As horrible as it was to him, it did go down in the books as one of our most memorable moments. We have joked about it a few times too. “You know I’m the only one who could have given you that experience.” “Hmm… Yeah, I could have done well without it.”

BLOG 12: What I'm Looking Forward to in My Singapore Trip

My family and I planned a trip to Singapore this January. I thought it would be a good idea for me and this project to research what food to expect and look forward to while I’m there. So I turned to Anthony Bourdain and found the top three things I need to try while I’m there:

1. Hainanese chicken rice – this is a Chinese dish but is more common in Singapore. Though it does not sound like something one would really look out for, learning of the process made it a lot more enticing. It begins with taking the chicken and submerging it ice, stripping it from its skin and fat. The rice is then cooked and boiled with chicken fat and garlic. They are both served with chili sauce, pounded ginger, and oyster sauce. This process can vary depending on the cook.

Bourdain's Experience: 2:35-5:55

2. The Clinic Restaurant – this is something my cousin mentioned to me as soon as I told him we were going to Singapore. The Clinic is a hospital-themed restaurant where the seats are wheelchairs, drinks are served in blood bags, and the place is lit like a hospital if you know what I mean. Eerie or delicious? Cool or just plan creepy? I expect a long line when I get there. Either way I bet I would enjoy the experience.

Bourdain's Experience: 00:00-4:50

3. Steamed shark head – if someone would have told me to try it, it would probably have been at the bottom of my list just because it doesn’t sound all that special to me. But after seeing it on Bourdain, I just thought it looked pretty good. The texture and garnish made my mouth water just watching it. There is no way I am missing this on my trip.

Bourdain's Experience: 5:45-8:05

BLOG 11: Buffalo Wings

America might not exactly have their own cuisine like other cultures do, but it was an American that invented the perfect food to enjoy with your Super Bowl and your beer: the Buffalo Chicken Wing. The genius (though probably not exactly intentional) idea came from the mind of Teressa Bellisimo. She and her husband Frank owned a restaurant called the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. It was on one fateful day in 1964 that she took the chicken wings, mixed it with her special sauce and served it with celery and blue cheese—the only ingredients she had available at the moment. Little did she know, the lack of condiments made her earn culinary respect. Ever since then it has been enjoyed in every bar in the country. A Buffalo Wing Festival is even held every year in Buffalo.

In San Jose, one of the popular places that people go to for the dish is Smoke Eaters. One of the things that Smoke Eaters is famous for is their Hellfire Challenge, which is to eat 12 wings dipped in their hellfire sauce in 10 minutes. No napkins, no drinks, and they must lick the sauce off their fingers once their done. But it doesn’t stop there, they must wait 5 minutes and feel the “afterburn” to fully win the challenge. A friend of mine took on the challenge a while back and fortunately lived to tell me the story. Needless to say, he made it through 6 pieces and went through what he described as “the worse pain of his life.”
Even the famous Adam Richman of Man vs. Food thought that the challenge was truly extreme. He succeeded nonetheless.

This is my friend keeling over in pain after the Hellfire Challenge.


Watch Man vs Food's Adam Richman survive the fire:

BLOG 10: Fast Food in The Philippines

This is probably an entry of large disinterest, but I personally thought I would take the time to discuss fast food in the Philippines. For the most part, the biggest fast food chains in the country carry the same items on their menu. The KFC in the Philippines carry rice with their meals, and McDonald’s also has a chicken and rice meal on their menu, as well as a spaghetti meal. However, the biggest and most popular fast food in the Philippines is probably Jollibee. There, they have it all. Burgers, fries, chicken and rice, spaghetti, palabok (a traditional Filipino food made of angel hair pasta and shrimp sauce), and many other meals others might find strange. One of these meals includes a burger steak topped with Jollibee’s special gravy and mushrooms served with rice.  

Burger Steak at Jollibee

Palabok from Jollibee

It is also common that fast food chains host kid’s birthday parties. They cater to houses or at a nearby location and provide entertainment by bringing along a dancing mascot. Given this situation, it is quite clear that fast food in the Philippines is pretty much enjoyed by the middle-class or higher. And in a third-world country, a large percentage does not often get to enjoy these foods. This is part of the reason why our obesity rates are not as high as it is in America, despite pretty much the same amount of calories in each meal. Fast food as a luxury, yes I admit, is kind of sad. But then again, maybe they are better off not being exposed to the evils of fast food. 

And for your viewing pleasure, here is the dancing mascot:

BLOG 9: Durian

"Smells like hell, tastes like heaven." That's what I would always hear about the durian. For those who do not know, durian is a fruit common in Southeast Asia. It is most distinguishable because of its spiked husk, and of course, it's smell. As Anthony Bourdain of popular show No Reservations put it, its taste can only be described as…indescribable, something you will either love or despise. …Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” Despite the harsh words, ironically, the Durian is believed to be and aphrodisiac. However, there has been no scientific truth to this. I live in a city called Davao in the Philippines, a place that is known for harvesting Durians. We do not only have the fruit, we have different variations of it, from candy, to ice cream, to shakes, and even in one café, a cappuccino. To have lived in Davao for pretty much all my life, the effect of durian to other people is the exact opposite to me. Though most find durian repulsive, to me, it simply smells like the sweetness of home. To get a little piece of home while here in America, frozen durian can be found in most local Asian stores (yes, it is not the same but it will do somehow). Also, my sister and I had discovered a frozen yogurt place on Curtner called Whimsical Frozen Yogurt Gelato where they serve Durian ice cream, for those who can’t handle the real thing.

BLOG 8: My Failed Attempts at Cooking

It is a little unfortunate but I am one of those few people who actually cannot cook. I have tried several times, but feelings of discouragement always hold me back. Also, once I get hungry, I try to look for the quickest food to make to appease my grumbling belly. The very few times I do cook, it is usually the simplest ones that you can just throw on a frying pan. This includes bacon, eggs, and spam (and I know most people think it is gross but I happen to enjoy it). For someone as inexperienced as me, it is only natural that I would run into little mishaps here and there. The one time that I had attempted to make eggs sunny-side up, it was burnt on the sides, raw in the middle, the apartment was filled with smoke, and it was just... disgusting. I supposed that is what I get for trying to just "figure it out." Ironically, my best friend in high school just happened to be culinary gifted. Her family had a business and so she has pretty much been cooking and baking since she was a child. On one father's day that I decided I wanted to bake cookies for my dad I asked for her help but wanted very minimal supervision as well. Despite what you might think, no I did not ruin my friend's kitchen. And the cookies actually turned out really well. In fact, my dad asks me to bake every time I come home to the Philippines. I made a lame attempt to bake a cake when I moved here, which would have been otherwise good if I did not overestimate the size of the pan. Well it's always good to know that what I lack in cooking I make up somehow in baking.

This is the best picture I could get from my old phone. This is my failed attempt at making strawberry short cake which turned out to look more like a pancake.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

BLOG 7: Persian Food Experience

My boss Raz, from my internship is a big food enthusiast. He would frequently take us out to lunch and when he does, it is almost always something interesting. One of the food trips that I thought was worthy of a blog entry was when he took us to a place called Dezzi Café, a small Persian restaurant in Santa Clara. There was not anything particularly interesting with what my colleague, Lorena and I ordered. I had Chanjeh, which was a sirloin steak kebob, while Lorena had a Chicken Koubideh, which was a ground chicken kebob. Raz, on the other hand, had the real traditional Persian food. The food which inspired the name of the restaurant was called Deezi. It was a lamb shank soup with tomatoes, beans, with different spices and herbs. This was all served to the table in a bowl, but then transferred into a small pot where it is smashed with a metal pestle. 

The bowl is the lamb soup. You can see the pestle used to smash the food next to the jar.

Raz explained to us that this is what the nomads used to eat, as it is pretty much a complete meal with all the nutrients that one needs. Though I am not sure how accurate that information is since I failed to find anything when I tried to research more about it. I tried a bite of it and it does taste like something that could fill you up. If you are interested in trying it, Deezi Café is located at 1312 Saratoga Ave. San Jose, 95129. You can also view their menu on their website at

BLOG 6: Eating Habits That I've Grown Up With And Learned

One of the things I found interesting in this class is how different dining habits could be in different cultures. Some are unusual, and some that is okay in one could be completely rude in the other. Growing up in a Filipino household, I had been taught several dining habits. One of the most common ones known from Filipinos is their habit of using a spoon in every meal we eat. Because almost every meal we eat has rice (no meal is ever really a meal without rice), we learned to use our fork to push the rice to our spoon, making it possible to grab every single grain on my plate. To me, this is the best idea as far as dining goes, which is why I thought it was ridiculous how other people in different cultures ate their peas as explained in class. Also, another habit that I was taught growing up was to drink my soup straight from the bowl and make a loud slurp while doing so. This habit was actually taught by my grandfather to all of us grandchildren. I later learned that this is a common doing mainly in Japanese culture. They say the noise you make while you eat show that you are truly enjoying your food. However, I would not hurry and do this at every moment in every meal, as most cultures still consider this rude. 

Kid knows how to do it the right way!

Last semester while doing research for a project I had learned of Egyptian dining habits as well. In Egypt, only the right hand is used for eating, salting of food is considered an insult, and empty plates are seen as an opportunity for the hostess to fill it up again so a small portion is always left. Of course, these are only a few of the habits of several cultures in the world. Research of these habits is strongly suggested before travelling to save you from awkward or embarrassing moments.

BLOG 5: Legend of the Pinapple

As promised, this is the legend of the pineapple. The story is about a young girl named Pina. She was sweet and hard-working, but was unfortunately left in the hands of her mean aunt, Marta. Marta was lazy, and did not care for Pina. When Pina was a child, she got terribly sick but Marta did not bother to take care of her. Pina went slightly blind since then. The kids in her school would constantly tease her for her disability, pinching and always making fun of her.  One day, Marta ordered Pina to wash the dishes. Since Pina could not see clearly, she accidentally broke one of the plates. To Marta’s anger, she beat Pina and yelled that she should have eyes all over her head so she would be able to see what she is doing. Pina could not take it anymore so ran away and did not come back for several days. Marta and the children then went on the hunt to find her. They began to believe that a fairy felt sorry for her and had therefore taken Pina to take care of her. Not long later, they found a tree that grew large fruit, with black spots and a prickly texture. Though hesitant at first, they all began to realize that this fruit was actually Pina. The spots were her eyes so she can see clearly now, and the prickly texture were so no one can touch her. Pina, pronounced pin-ya, means pineapple in Filipino.

In case you were confused, those black spots seen in the picture are the "eyes"

BLOG 4: Legend of the Banana

Back in grade school, we were required to read different Filipino folklores. Upon doing this project, I remembered two of them that happened to be both related to fruit. The first one was the store of the banana. The story begins with a lovely princess named Mariang Maganda (maganda, which means beautiful in Filipino) who one day, met a handsome prince from a different kingdom named Prince Aging (we will find out more about this strange name later). From the day they met they have been seeing each other every day until they began to fall in love. One evening, right before, the prince had told the princess that he had to go. The princess asked if was coming back and he said he did not know. The princess refused to let him go and held on to his hands tightly. As the clock struck 12, the prince vanished, and all was left with her were his hands. Frightened, the princess decided to bury the hands in the ground. Days later, the princess went back to the place where she had buried his hands, and found a plant with fruits growing from it. The plants were in the shape of fingers, thus concluding the story of the legend of the saging (which means banana in English). In the next blog, I will be telling you about the story of the pineapple.

Native banana from the Philippines

BLOG 3: Argan Oil

After researching on the last blog, I found another thing interesting and kind of touches on the same topic.  Argan oil is comes from kernels in argan trees most common in Morocco. How it is made is probably less repulsive than the Kopi Luwak. The process begins with goats consuming argan kernels. The goat swallows, digests, and releases this nut, making it easier to crack open. The Moroccans then collect the undigested kernels to be roasted and extracted to produce oil. Edible argan oil, on the other hand, is used as dip for bread or salad dressing. One of the popular dips in Morocco is called Amlou. It is made up of almonds paste, mixed with honey, and argan oil. For culinary purposes, argan oil is only used as a seasoning and never used for cooking. It is said to complement vegetarian dishes, couscous, and fish. Restaurants in Morocco have used argan oil in their menus as a healthy option.

Amlou dip

Argan oil can also do a lot for you in terms of health. It has been said that it has twice as more vitamin E than olive oil. Prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, bowel disorders, inflammatory disease is just a few of the many benefits of argan oil. In some cases, it is also used for the skin, for 80% of its essential acids. It is used to smooth scars, prevent stretch marks, and even works well as a hair conditioner.

Also, if you were curious...

Argan Oil Nutritional Composition (per tablespoon):

Calories: 70 
Fat Calories: 70 
Total fat
: 8g (12%) 
Saturated fat:
 1.4g (7%)
Trans fat: 0g 
Polyunsaturated fat: 
Monounsaturated fat: 3.4g 
 0 mg. (0%) 
 0 mg 
Total Carb:
Protein: 0g 
Vitamin E: 3.4mg (23%)

BLOG 2: World's Most Expensive Coffee

A few years ago when I went home to the Philippines, I was hanging out at a local coffee shop when my cousin pointed out something in the menu. He explained to me what the Kape Alamid was. At first I didn’t believe him, until I did some research myself.

The coffee originally came from Indonesia, and was called the Kopi Luwak, or Civet Coffee (kape alamid in the Philippines). The very root of how these coffee beans are collected starts with the Asian Palm Civet, which is kind of species found deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia. Civets feed on foods such as fruit and seeds, and leave droppings around as a way to mark their territory. Farmers then search around for these droppings, wash them, leave them out on the sun to dry, and then roast them. This then turns into coffee beans, and becomes what is considered the most expensive coffee in the world.

Asian Palm Civet droppings

You must be wondering who would ever even want to consume literally anything that came from anyone or anything’s feces. Well, it has been explained that the digestive process that goes within the Civet adds to its unique flavor. If you’re curious enough to try it, I sure hope you have an extra $50 lying around to spend on a cup of coffee.

BLOG 1: Filipino Street Food in America

Just this past summer, a few friends and I discovered a small place in San Diego where they serve Filipino street food. Being all Filipino, we thought it would be a good idea to drive there and rediscover the food we once all enjoyed back home. As we arrive, we ordered isaw (barbecued chicken intestines), kwek-kwek (hard-boiled quail eggs fried in batter), fishballs, and kikiam. My friend then decides to order something called “Betamax.” Not even knowing what it is, he asks for one serving. As our food arrives, all looked good except for Betamax, which pretty much looked chunks of dark meat with a clay-like texture. To our surprise, the server explained that it was actually grilled chicken blood. I did the research as soon as we got home and I learned that chicken blood can actually take a somewhat solid and glutinous form after it is extracted and cooled in an open container. Needless to say, it remained untouched until we finished all the other food. After much mental preparation, we all agreed to have at least one huge chunk each. I have eaten and enjoyed the Philippines’ famous dinuguan several times before. However, the idea of eating solidified pig’s blood was not exactly enticing. And indeed, as expected, it was not good. I struggled through each moment as this dry tasteless chunk crumbled in my mouth. We all went home feeling a little bit victorious that day. We all knew we have experienced and conquered what we knew most people would not have the courage or stomach to do.

Evidence that we did eat the betamax.