(Sundang means weapon; parti ng dinulang means a part of the dulang or very low table)
PANSIT. Cooked noodle dish.
PANSIT LUGLOG. Fresh or dried bihon (thin noodles) cooked in a thick reddish sauce. Luglog means to cook by immersing in boiling water or broth with the use of (originally) a woven rattan ladle with a long handle. The noodles are immersed in the liquid (linuluglog). When lifted, the broth or water simply drips through. Also known as pansit palabok. Eaten with patis and kalamansi.
PALABOK is its thick red sauce that is poured on the noodles and garnished with hard boiled eggs and halved, boiled shrimps. (Palabok also means flowery flattering speech, meant to entice).
PANSIT MALABON. Same as above but uses fat miki noodles. Poured on top, the palabok is topped with boiled (preferably duck) egg slices, halved shrimps, (originally) slices of kamias, kinchay and maybe a sprinkling of ground chicharon.
The best pansit Malabon is allegedly that of Rosy’s. The eatery is located in the part of Malabon that floods during high tide, so that you have to sit on a stool with your feet in the water (last time I went there). Today it has many Manila branches.
PANSIT LANGLANG is a soup consisting of sotanghon or glass noodles with bits of chicken and tasty tengang daga (rats’ ears) mushrooms. May also be served dry.
PANSIT BIHON OR PANSIT MIKI GISADO. Normal pansit known to anyone who has sworn allegiance to the Philippine flag.
PANSIT HABHAB. Unadorned miki and sayote noodles sauteed in pork fat. It is served up on a small square of banana leaf to fit one’s palm and is directly brought to the mouth (hence habhab). A Lukban snack.
PORK FAT and CHICHARON. Pork fat is revered by “wa-care” Filipino gourmands who insist that anything fried in it tastes better. These heathens are also adorers of pork chicharon (with a slab of fat) and chicharong bulaklak made of the intestines of the pig pulled inside-out to resemble wood roses. The inferior tito or small intestine are also made into just-as-deadly cracklings. All dipped in vinegar with garlic or sili (sarap!)
LECHON or LITSON. A good lechon should have meat that is evenly and fully cooked, tender and dry. The skin should be crisp from ears to tail (but is often not). The lechon preferred by party givers is lechon de leche, the month-old piglet mercilessly plucked from its mother’s breast which socialites feast on without mercy.
The best weight for a good party lechon is allegedly 30 pounds. Its best diet is vegetarian-bran, kangkong or kamote leaves—not kitchen scraps or store-brought feeds with antibiotic. The simplest lechon stuffing is banana leaves, which keeps the inside moist so that the pig cooks thoroughly. Young sampalok or alibangbang leaves are also popular stuffing as they impart their sourness to the meat and neutralize the greasiness.
Some prefer to stuff the stomach cavity with brown upland rice or even malagkit rice, which swims in lard as the pig roasts. Others insist on a kind of turkey or chicken stuffing, therefore bread dough. The truly perverse fill their lechon with paella or stuff it with a whole chicken.
Warning: One of two people who split a baby lechon between them for dinner, died of high blood the same night.
LECHON SAUCE. The Batangas type is the most popular Tagalog version. It is pork liver boiled and pounded to a paste, mixed with vinegar, sugar and herbs and thickened with biscocho bread crumbs. Mang Tomas has grown rich from bottling this lechon sauce.
The Pampanga lechon sauce tends to be sweeter, the Bicol, sourer.
The Cebu-Leyte lechon has no sauce. Its stuffing is a lot of pepper, shallots, leeks and lemongrass, a stuffing that makes the animal tasty by itself. The Cebu lechon has made its presence felt in Manila where it is flown upon order.
RELYENO AND GALANTINA must not be confused. Both are deboned stuffed chickens. Relyeno is the whole chicken, drumsticks and wings showing, galantina is rolled, with deboned wings tucked inside. Relyeno is brown-roasted in the oven, galantina is boiled and more bland. Galantina filling includes, aside from ground pork and chicken, hard-boiled eggs, Vienna sausage, maybe ham, green olives stuffed with pimiento, and carrots. The basic filling of relyeno is spicier, with ham, pork sausage, chorizo de Bilbao and raisins (no eggs).
DINENGDENG or INABRAW, a salubrious soupy vegetable dish of Ilocos Norte made from fresh veggies picked from the backyard (one’s own or the neighbor’s). It may include any of the following: bamboo shoots, malunggay, himbabao, lima beans, patola, mashed kamote, squash leaves, string beans, eggplants and saluyot with broiled fish or shrimps put into the kettle before the greens.
An Ilocano teacher said: The Lord ascended into heaven in order to scatter the seeds of saluyot for the poor Ilocanos to eat.
Saluyot is a weed (slimy when cooked) which is never cultivated but grows wantonly when it rains. Its consumption was once regarded with amazement by botanists and other ethnic groups like Manilans.
Ampalaya. Why is the ampalaya wrinkled? Says artist Romeo Lee, because it is the only vegetable that was not included in Bahay Kubo! It is the signature vegetable of pinakbet. The miniature ampalaya is probably the best symbol for how the Ilocano turns a disadvantage into an advantage. Originally eaten by the farmer because it is a reject, the small aborted ampalaya is now the sought-after size, ideal for pinakbet.
PINAPAITAN. Early in the Spanish times, the ship of the English freebooter Thomas Cavendish was moored off Fuga Island. He had captured some Ilocanos to help him on board. From the shore came natives rowing bancas with foodstuffs to sell, including a goat.
The sailors decided to buy the goat and they slaughtered it on deck, throwing all the intestines into the sea. The Ilocano assistants were not about to let all that lovely laman-loob go down and dived for the treasure. This is followed by a description of the natives cooking the innards, including its bile, into what the poor chronicler could only describe as “a disgusting mess.” This is the first mention in Blair and Robertson of pinapaitan.
Pinapaitan is a bitter dish of goat meat and offals or chopped intestines, mixed with papait which comes from digested grass in the stomach of the goat. Pinapaitan dishes include the half-cooked Ilocano kilawen and the almost-raw imbaliktad. With every purchase of meat specifically for pinapaitan, the vendor throws in the attendant bile for free.
KALDERETA is a goat stew with a rich red sauce consisting of canned tomato sauce, ground liver, red hot chilis, bell peppers, a grated ball of cheese and green olives simmered in the caldron for over an hour.
ITLOG NA PULA (red egg) or ITLOG NA MAALAT. We’re probably the only nation that colors its salted egg red. When I sent the proofs of my first book on food (“Culinary Culture of the Philippines” 1977) to Hong Kong for color correction, it was returned with the red egg colored black. They thought we had made a mistake and so made it a century egg!
BIBINGKANG LALAKI. In the province, I stood in line behind a little girl who had ordered a “bibingkang lalaki.” I soon find out that it was simply bibingka with eggs. (Logical.)
QUEK QUEK is a hard-boiled chicken egg dipped in bright-orange batter and fried. Sold on busy sidewalks.
BIKO; KALAMAY-HATI; SINUKMANI (Laguna) all refer to the same sticky rice delicacy.
KESONG PUTI; KESONG LAGUNA. Same-same
HOPIANG MONGO and HOPIANG BABOY. Hopiang mongo has black or yellow mung bean filling, sometimes mixed with kamote. Hopiang baboy has no baboy filling, only kundol, but it is fried in pork fat. Hopiang mongo hyped up with lots of nuts and salted egg becomes mooncake that has a box and sometimes costs as much as P500 each.
TURO-TURO, CARINDERIA, CAFETERIA, FAST FOOD are all the same.
FAST FOOD CHABACANO. The Chabacano of Zamboanga is a Visayan-Spanish patois, the Davao Chabacano is Spanish-Tagalog-Visayan-Bagobo. The Tagalog-Spanish Chabacano of Cavite City, where the galleons stopped to be repaired, is the same as Ermita Chabacano (now dead).
Historically, the Ternate (Cavite) Chabacano was first. The original kingdom of Ternate in the Moluccas was a small island rich in spices and there was a tussle for the control of it among the Dutch, English and Portuguese. At one point, to avoid persecution from the Muslims, 200 Christians, already speaking a Portuguese-Malay patois in 1674, were evacuated to Manila from the original Ternate of the Moluccas. They first settled in Ermita but were soon embroiled in endless quarrels with the Tagalogs and so the community was bodily evacuated to Cavite-Tanza, San Roque or Cavite Puerto and the new Ternate. (Keith Wtrirnon, 1954)
Ternate Chabacano is known for its florid metaphors, to wit: patis is “lava mano” (hand wash). For “the rice pot is boiling over,” they say “ta sali ya el prusisyon” (the procession has emerged from the church). The tira-tira or pulled sugar confection is “haligi del campanaryo” (posts of the belfry). The bi-valve halaan is “cumi uno, buta dos” (eat one, throw two away).
BULAKAN SPECIALTIES are appended to the town they are known for, such as Litsong Bocaue (pan-fried lechon or lechong kawali); sukang Paombong (a very sour nipa vinegar); ensaymadang Malolos (a sweet fancy bread with salted egg on top); pan de sal Baliwag (buns with a hard crust); pansit Marilao (a kind of pansit palabok); putong pulo (round, bite-size rice cake); pastillas San Miguel (a rolled sweet made of fresh carabao’s milk.
An item becomes a “town specialty” when the talented cook who invented it makes an outstanding product that is sought after by both its inhabitants and outsiders. Today you can hardly tell these apart from the products of copycats of other towns (from Judge Lorenzo Veneracion).