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Friday, September 30, 2005

Pancit Will Rule The World

Note: This post was first published by yours truly at Postcards From Metro Suburbia in celebration of the Free-For-All Friday. I hope Vryce liked it.


Unlike other Asian foods like Japanese and Thai, Filipino food has always been met with disgust and scorn from Americans. Most of our food are either too fatty (wanna try deep-fried pork leg?), too sweet (Filipinos have a passion for the sweet tooth, even spaghetti is supposed to be sweet), or can be featured on the disgusting food challenges in Fear Factor (have you eaten a duck embryo? or perhaps fermented shrimp fry, its stench casting the deadly spell throughout the room?).

Asian cuisine has always been conceived as health conscious and light, but our dishes are different. You see, the Philippines is a melange of cultures. We have traded with China, intermarried with India, Islamized by the Malays, colonized for a very long time by Spain, glamourized by Hollywood America, and dealt hardship with Japan. We Filipinos don't actually call ourselves Asian. We consider Latin Americans as our closest cousins, and Americans as brothers.

Hence, our dishes are a confusion as well. As I have said, fish is not the staple meat in the country, especially in the urban areas. It's pork. And anything that can be done with pork, fried, deep-fried, curried, grilled, boiled, brothed, ground, name it, someone in the Philippines has done it. Whatever part of pig, from pork, fat, leg, intestines, face, liver, heart, kidneys, genitalia, lungs, someone in the Philippines has done a dish about that. So it's not a surprise if Westerners look at Filipino cuisine as odd, even impossible to be consumed by the general American public.

But then I learned about something last night. Vryce posted in Blog Explosion about finding recipes for pancit. I asked him why the sudden fascination. Apparently, the Filipino nurses in the hospital where his mom works served up a ton of pancit for everyone to partake and consume. (Correct me Vryce if the story is accurate.)

Pancit is the Filipino version of stir-fried noodles. We have a variety of versions of pancit, depending on the region. From rice noodles with soy chicken and vegetables, flour noodles in soy pork, saltine noodles in vegetables, to a special kind of pancit which you are only supposed to eat with your mouth. Only your mouth.

It's like pad thai without the hot spices, chapchae without the overpowering sesame aroma, chow mein but with more meat.

At that moment, perhaps pancit can save the Filipinos from embarrassing themselves with unflattering cuisine. Platefuls of delightful pancit will be served in every American home, and perhaps cross borders to Canada, Mexico, and even Europe. Hundreds of panciterias (pancit eateries) will be built and proudly promote that their recipes are authentic Filipino. Pancit will rule the culinary world and take sushi, pad thai, curry, and even taco a run for their money.

Unless, of course, if another Filipino will offer an American a serving of balut.

Kain na!

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Saints Move In Mysterious Ways


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