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!

Tomato saucy pasta-soup!

Remember the pasta and omelette? Both had some left over. The egg I just heated, but the pasta was turned into some tomato-saucy soup. For lack of tomato sauce, though, I poured spaghetti sauce. Not bad! And it was a rainy day, so the sweet-spicy concoction was just awesome.

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Tomatoes pretending to be grapes!

Now this leads me to think that tomato sauce should be regular sight in the cupboard. Del Monte has it right, with all their reddish Kitchenomics recipes. Tomato sauce can work wonders. But don’t use it one day after another: you’ll soon get bored with the taste and start seeing red.