Ode to carenderia food

Work takes me to different places in the Philippines. One of these places is Baras, Rizal. My office there has a carenderia beside it; it’s very convenient. Recently I often ended up eating there despite initial hesitations pertaining to sanitation and humidity.

Now I’m liking the food there. (Well, first of all, the store keepers are very hospitable. Just point out to them what you want, and they’ll magically zap into existence a rustic-but-clean-enough dining set on one of the better-looking tables. I’m really impressed.) So, yeah, I’m liking the food there now. Maybe because the cook (cooks?) really prepare them to be savory. That’s how we Filipinos want our food. If you want salty, there’s the range from menudo to afritada to caldereta to adobo. If you want sour, there’s sinigang. Bitter, there’s papaitan. Sweet, there’s halo-halo. Exotic, there’s labong and langka (bamboo shoots and jackfruit). That carenderia in Baras offers all, except the halo-halo.

Why am I saying all this? Maybe I’m just marveling at the food and the people who cooked them. And that thing about “food traditions” — they’re most evident in carenderias, which showcase various dishes, recipes of which were handed down from one generation to the next. No cookbooks!

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Liking adobo sweet and dark

In hopes of replicating a caramelized version of the unofficial national food of the Philippines — adobo — I spent about two hours cooking this on Wednesday night.

Sweet adobo

It’s adobo, alright, but not caramelized. And it’s too dark brown — some parts are even black — but that’s just a sign of how savory it is. I also added a bit of honey to this; it made a slight difference, but just slight.

Three days later, the dish is still unfinished. It’s so flavorful that one meat cube requires about a cup of rice to enjoy. And every heating of the thing just makes it better than ever, like wine over time.

I’ll try doing this again, but with better ingredient proportions — and perhaps with pineapples.

First adobo

This blog is not a recipe blog. It’s a blog about my mistakes and “takes on life” from the kitchen.

When I started living on my own, I found cooking as a convenient and superiorly interesting hobby. I mean, if life requires you to cook, why not make art out of that darn requirement? Sure, there’s money and effort involved, but isn’t any other artform? Besides, this art is delicious. And I badly need more weight.

Anyway, to start off, let me show you a picture of my very first adobo, the Philippines’ unofficial national food. 🙂

Image

Too oily.

I still remember how long it took me to cook this. About two hours. I don’t know why. Maybe I aimed at making the meat tender. That was two months ago.

And my first adobo cooking lesson was: marinate the meat houuuuurs before the actual cooking.

But the finished product still was good enough. Just thinking about it makes me hungry. And it’s now three minutes to midnight.