Monday, October 06, 2008

The Most Expensive Powdered Sugar in Manila

I've got a few recipes in the works and I was planning to do some kitchen testing this week so I decided to pick up some ingredients on my way to Cafe Ysabel. I stopped at this great baking supply store (which I will not name here as I really like their store, and I don't want the store name associated with a negative post about something else) to pick up some almond flour and some powdered sugar. Parking was full so I double-parked and popped into the store to buy my items. I'm waiting my turn at the counter, having spent barely two minutes in the store, when I notice a commotion outside. I'M BEING TOWED!! Yessir, those boys pulled up with the tow truck and had my car hooked up in under two minutes! Your taxes at work. Very nice. I'm joined outside by the store manager to plead with them but they're not budging. It's 12noon. My car is lunch. Forget the almond flour, I'll need the cash to bribe these misanthropes pay the city fine. I spend the rest of the afternoon back and forth in the pouring rain with no umbrella from city hall to impound and back again twice. Long story short: The box of powdered sugar worth 48pesos cost me, among other things, Php1,100 in fines, Php60 in tricycle fare, 1 rain-soaked t-shirt, mud all over my best pair of dress pants, and 1 missed lunch. What a day!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Itlog ng Bayawak

On my latest market foray I chanced upon something I'd never tried before: itlog ng bayawak (monitor lizard eggs) I had eaten bayawak meat before but I had never sampled nor even seen bayawak eggs. They looked like palm-sized dinosaur eggs. The shells were not hard; they were tough but pliable like thick parchment paper. Always eager to try new food I bought a couple. At Php120 a pop they weren't cheap. The guy said to just boil them like chicken eggs.

When I got home I washed off the mud (like crocodiles, monitor lizards bury their clutch of eggs) and boiled them for 10 minutes. I sliced one open: what came out resembled very rich cream...the white and the yolk were not distinct. It was delicious, like balut yolk! Strange, the proteins did not solidify like those from a chicken egg. I boiled the other 5, 10, 15 more minutes but prodding the egg I could tell the contents were not solid. Does anyone have any experience with this stuff? Strange but delicious.

While we're on the subject of culinary exotica let me reel off the stuff I've eaten that most people (particularly non-Asians) might find gross. Balut, of course is hard for the westerner (and even some Filipinos) to stomach even though it's ubiquitous on the streets. I've been known to down 5 baluts in quick succession not as a show of bravado but simply because I love the stuff. I only stopped at 5 for fear of a heart attack from all the cholesterol hehe. Other street food offerings include isaw (pig intestine), "betamax" grilled pig's blood, and pig's face. Other than street food, let's see...wild boar, fried earthworms, bull-testicles, all sorts of eyeballs, ants, snake meat (tastes like chicken), crickets (Kapampangan-style), bongkawil (big fat palm-sized sea snails from Mindanao), and some kind of deep-fried worms Chef Gene brought back from Thailand. Yes, I've had dog meat.

To each his own. Heck, most non-Asians will find bagoong (fish paste), which appears at almost every Filipino meal, repulsive. Me, I find all the chemicals in American processed food disgusting, and with good reason. Bayawak eggs never gave anyone cancer.