My drinking days are also filled with bright imaginings of exotic goodies whenever a beer bottle is knocked down over the table at hangover mornings or while the rounded shot-glass is filled with rum or gin at night spots with drinking buddies; chances are, illusions of the best dishes to lavish at drinking sessions found in the provinces deserve a little nostalgia: rice beetles, woodworms, field mice—to name a few—stingray and eel specialties which are likely found in restaurants of the coastal areas in Mindanao and Visayas add up taunt to the palate as grilled meat aroma teases my nose in the city’s street side joints. But whenever the belly calls for something finer, or a glass of bahalina starts me to crave for a delightful Visayan delicacies, I easily unscrew my pen and crush bulleted texts of my notes and start wheeling to the market where every ingredient is choicest for Asian cooking.
Fish meat is surely an attraction when grilled and simply laid in a plate over the veranda’s folding table. Whenever fish is mentioned in Visayas and most portions of Mindanao, kinilaw comes so alive a delicacy. It is usually made of raw tuna meat (malasugue or yellow fin) spiced with red onions, lemon, minced ginger, vinegar or coconut toddy; salt and a touch of umami taste to season. In Northern Mindanao and Camiguin suha (lime) and tabon-tabon are added to the dish which is not common to the rest of the regions preparing the same, added with hot chillies to spice up the treat. It is best with cold beer, hard liquor chased down by soda, or the socialite’s selection of white wine. But I prefer it with a well-aged bahalina.
With just enough budget on hand a nice cut of pork (belly, face, or ear) noises the bored drinkers waiting for another bottle of booze at the garden gazebo. Sinugba is enough with a few cloves of garlic, crushed peppercorns, soy sauce, and lemon—makes up of a good marinade while the coals are heated, and when the cinder is just right for roasting—can send a scent to tease drunken discussions or awaken derisory mumbles. Chopped to small chunks, blended with onions, soy sauce, and vinegar. But most of my drinking buddies prefer it plainly salted and left brown on both sides before it is decorated in a bowl.
Any food lover can differentiate the taste of native chicken from the rest of its kind. Aside from the already famed tinola, when hangover stress is washed along with facial sweat, the Chicken halang-halang becomes a spicy hot dish I always serve for delightful local delicacies. My sautéed garlic, onions, ginger, and chicken meat is seasoned with vinegar and soy sauce finished with strips of sweet pepper after the meat is tenderized. Add enough chili to make it spicy hot only suitable for small picks of a fork.
Pato tim can add up a little twist to my drinking habits as local delicacies, especially with friends in provinces where rice paddies are home to domesticated ducks. Just letting the duck meat tender with tuba as the aroma fills the kitchen up to the balconies of nearby homes. I have a liking to let the oil from the meat fry the garlic, onions, star anise, and peppercorns before finally tossing the salted black beans at the cookware.
At the rice paddies still where stretches of irrigation lines are favorite habitat for catfish, I always enjoy watching relatives catching them. It is a tasty delicacy when cooked adobo style with coconut milk. ginataang hito is more a delicacy from northern Philippines brought by the early Tagalog settlers to Mindanao and Visayas.
I always choose a local delicacies that satisfies my abdomen. Chicken feet or adidas to most Filipinos can be well loved when grilled, but my own style of adidas is sautéed to tenderness, and tausi or banana ketchup to finish off the dish—always an enjoyable delicacy when beer drinkers surprises me after work. And they ask me again if the guisadong adidas can be recreated, with a drunken wit, and I laughed out loud to pop another bottle.
A local delicacy at fiestas has to be some other things other than the famous lechon or roasted pig. An ox stripe and liver cut in strips with Bamboo shoots in a pan are also renowned in Visayas and Mindanao. The paklay in a bowl is well loved by my drinking buddies, be it there a bottle of mixed liquor or simply bubbling beer mugs, cold and heavy.
The lengua too can be a delightful local delicacy. Whether pork or beef tongue, depending on what’s readily available at the Market. It’s cooked to tenderness first before sliced bite size, sautéed, and blended with tomato sauce and pineapple juice. Potatoes cut in chunks and carrots can add up colors and the sweet and sour taste perfects the craving for more booze.
The sizzling sisig may be ubiquitous for local delicacy in the city pubs or karaoke joints the gambas and squid is served in sizzling plates aromatic enough to let me feel the abdomen eager enough to scoop a spoonful. The goat kilawin too is gaining popularity among drinking groups in Mindanao and Visayas, but what makes alcohol drinking well craved in the Philippines is that it’s always paired with a side dish to satisfy at the same time the stomach before falling to forty winks.