A menu for an impromptu gathering of Filipino government officials and foreign rice studiersFilipino beer - San Miguel and Red Horse
White pizza - featuring local water buffalo (carabao) cheese
Crispy pata - deep fried pork thigh
|The Carabao - draft animal and milk source. |
A face that screams "I'll make your pizza taste better," and do
|Crispy fried pork thigh - Pata|
Pork sisig - minced pork, traditionally made with meat from the head. It's been reinvented as simple grilled pork accompanied with a fried egg, onions, chili, liver, the local citrus fruit "calamansi" and vinegar.
Mangos and bagoon - green picked mangos dipped in a shrimp paste mixed with chilli, soy sauce
|Sisig traditionally used everything, now just a bit of things|
|Confession: best part of this dish are the mangos|
And then brave and stupid didn't look too different. "Balut" is a common Filipino street snack found in food stands that provide income to women who cook from their homes. The Filipino people are proud of their Balut. I'm avoiding telling you what Balut is. Balut is a fertilized duck embryo that is boiled and eaten from the shell. Yep. And the Abra mayor materialized a HUGE bag of Balut just as the pork and beer and cheese were settling; the ultimate cultural exchange. I exchanged, but not with eyes open. This morning I instituted a lemon lime soda cleanse and food fast just to give the insides a rest. To be fair, the taste wasn't bad and I really challenged my vegetarian stomach before the Balut. I will not recommend not Baluting, but dang, bring your dance moves.
Moreover, I don't want the Balut to speak for the night. 20 of us from very different places sat for hours using food as a bridge to discuss Jefferey Sachs, local rice markets, President Obama, boxing, Filipino politics etc. The generosity of our Filipino hosts cannot be overstated. They fed us so well, and asked superb questions about our interests and encouraged our curiosity. Despite the fact that I'll never Balut, ever again (ever), there is great joy in acknowledging that it's important to dance.