Unlimited Grub Grabs on WordPress!


From now on, you can read about my food adventures and more here, or through my new WordPress address, https://unlimitedgrubgrabs.wordpress.com/.

My recent post here on Boracay’s chori burger debuted on WordPress. I’m still studying WordPress on my own, though I have help in managing the other site (special thanks to Giselle Bacalla for helping me set up this WordPress account, by the way). Expect additional content such as albums and behind the scenes shots of the places I’ve visited and the food I’ve sampled so far. It’s still a work in progress, but we’ll get there.

In any case, watch out for Part 2 of my food raids in Boracay and more soon!

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Episode 35: Going Hungry in Boracay (Part 1) – Much Ado About Chori Burger

It’s been a while since I last visited Boracay. The first time my family went there was in 2010, but in such a short time, I already missed the place. I missed the sun, the sea, and the quiet rolling of the waves on my feet. I missed the seafood and the cocktails. I missed looking at the starry sky with a bottle of beer in one hand, and the quiet mornings by the beach.

Boracay is a tropical paradise, home to a laid-back lifestyle where one can relax and have peace of mind amidst the calming embrace of the sea.

So what am I doing, hunting for burgers in Boracay?

The chori burger is made of grilled chorizos slapped between two burger buns. Except for the preparation and the variations in taste (which ranges between sweet to spicy), each of them is basically the same.

It was food blogger Pie Rivera who suggested that I seek out the chori burger. Nowadays lots of food stalls in Boracay offer this novelty item. It’s said to be a popular snack in this side of the vacation island, a perfect companion during those long walks by the beach. Never mind that it’s cheap, and it’s not a dish from some special menu, but a burger, plain and simple. Every visitor in Boracay has to try one, or so they say.

My hunt for chori burgers almost got spoiled when my siblings and bro-in-law first dined on this; when I bit on one, I swore on a certain someone’s high heels that I was sure I ordered a chori burger and not a bun burger with vegetables. The temptation to try finding another chori burger proved too strong though.

And so, one afternoon on that vacation island, poor, hungry me decided I would get a chori burger. Without enough clues or funds for a food trip, I decided to rely on my instincts. If chori burger is that popular and is heralded as a sidewalk snack, then I should just walk around right? Walking around Stations 1 to 3 is good exercise, after all.

And then I found this stall.

“Merly’s BBQ Boracay” was just your ordinary barbecue stall hanging out near one of the bars at Station 1. The words “Original discoverer of longga and chori burger since 1988” are printed on a tarpauline tied onto the stall, while its barbecued meats stand proudly on a front shelf. The chorizos in question are among them.

I remember reading about “Merly’s” somewhere. Tourists tend to recommend this stall’s chori burger over the Internet. Whether it’s because they are really the first to sell the sandwich here, or theirs is comparable to restaurant burger, I don’t quite know, and it didn’t matter. I wanted a chori burger and I wanted one now.

How much is one, I asked the vendor. I couldn’t remember if he said P50 or P55, but I’m sure it was about half the price of the bun burger I encountered. Anyway, he popped a pair of chorizo slices and a bun into the fiery grill, and started cooking the burger.

“Do you always set up shop here?”

“Most of the time, yes,” the vendor replied.

“It’s a good time to set up shop anyway around this time.”

“True, we have more customers at night, especially the ones coming out of bars.”

“So you’ve really been open since 1988? Merly’s been here that long?” (At this point I was feeling really hungry and senseless.)

“Yup, that’s my mom over there,” the vendor replied and pointed to the old woman behind him.

Indeed, there she was, How old was Merly… 50, 55, 60? I never bothered to ask, for some reason. What I learned though was that Merly personally makes the chori burger sauce, but since her body couldn’t handle the stress, her family minds the rest of the stall’s operations. She’s had a lot of visitors at her stall, they say, including some celebrities whom I never bothered to ask.

“I didn’t know you have to grill the bun too.”

“That’s part of this burger’s charm. The bun becomes crispy, so it tastes better. Hot sauce?”

“Make it hot.”

“Good choice.”

The vendor brushed the buns and chorizos with some more of Merly’s sauce while they were still sizzling on the grill. The sauce, he said, is supposed to be more on the spicy side. Yeah, I was sure I saw two varieties of sauce by the grill. How spicy is their spicy sauce, I thought. By the time the chori burger was done, it no longer mattered.

Mumble, mumble, chomp, chew, chew. The chorizos were a bit salty but really meaty. The sauce was really spicy and smelled appetizing. The grilled bun locked in all of the flavors. It was just one burger, but it was satisfying.

“What time are you closing?” I asked the vendor.

“Need some water?”

The heck.

The burger is a baffling food item. Formerly the staple of fastfood chains and steak restaurants,  now there’s no place where you won’t spot patties in a bun with ketchup, mayo, and coleslaw on some sidewalk stall in your neighborhood. It’s cheap, easy to grab and eat anywhere, and it works as a quick snack for people the on the go.

It’s no surprise why the chori burger’s a hit in Boracay. There’s that tropical paradise feel that comes with eating a grilled burger while walking by a sandy beach. The scent of the sea and the burning chorizo, along with the sweet-spicy mix of flavors in the tongue excites the imagination, making you feel more at home. The burger fits with the simple, easy-going lifestyle associated with this island.

On the other hand, the chori burger is that little reminder of what one left behind in the urban jungle. More like something to keep you from getting homesick, methinks.

So what am I doing, hunting for burgers in Boracay? Just having a taste of the island’s lifestyle, I guess. Bonus points for finding a chori burger pioneer.

(^o^)/

Ano Ulam Niyo? The Independence Day Edition

Cover of the Malolos Banquet menu displayed at the Xavier University Museum in Cagayan de Oro

When I was asked to make an Independence Day menu for the June 12 episode of “Andar ng mga Balita”, it didn’t take long to let the magnitude of the task sink in my head. That’s because what I was supposed to recreate is actually something from the depths of Philippine history, so to speak. I’m talking about the Malolos Banquet, the menu served to the Founding Fathers of the Philippines.

The menu required not only extensive research, but a lot of planning as well. Besides, how was I supposed to present seven appetizers, seven main course dishes, and a myriad of desserts? Nevertheless, it was a great idea to work on.

But let me backtrack a bit.

Historian Ambeth Ocampo says the Malolos Banquet was served on in a feast held on Sept. 29, 1898. This was when the declaration of independence in Kawit, Cavite was ratified in Malolos, Bulacan. 

The menu was in the form of a Philippine flag with the words “Solemn ratification of Philippine independence.” Inside the menu is the date of the party, and the words “Libertad,” “Fraternidad,” and “Igualidad,” the rallying cry of the French Revolution of 1789. 

It is said the chefs of the old Barangay Sulipan of Apalit, Pampanga had a hand in cooking the banquet. (I believe Chef Gene Gonzales, who recreated the Malolos Banquet in 1998, is a descendant of one of the delegates.) The strange part is that the food were in French. Everything is grander and sexier in French, anyway. In layman’s terms, these would be:

Appetizers
Oysters, prawns, buttered radish, olives, Lyon sausages, sardines in tomato sauce, salmon with Hollandaise sauce

Main courses 
crabmeat in its shell, filled pastry shells, chicken giblets, mutton chops with potato straws, stuffed truffled turkey a la Manilloise, beef fillet a la Chateaubriand with green beans, cold ham with asparagus

Dessert
cheeses, fruits, jam, frosted strawberries, ice cream

Drinks
Wines: Bordeaux, Sauterne, sherry, champagne
Liqueurs: Chartreuse, Cognac
Coffee, tea

National Artist Nick Joaquin describes it thus: “The menu is a culmination, like Malolos itself, and should stand side by side with the Malolos Constitution.”

When I asked Ocampo whether it’s possible these were stylized names of local delicacies, he replied, “I’m almost sure the Lyon sausages were imported because if you look at the ads in newspapers at the time they had all the liquor and other ingredients for such a meal.”

Despite having this much info, I had to make do with the little I have, and there were a few adjustments along the way, but we ended up having a grand feast worthy of emulating the Malolos Banquet.

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The Andar version of the Malolos Banquet is as follows:

Appetizers
Shrimps cooked in butter, Spanish sardines

Prawns are usually part of the main course, but I presume that back then, these were served as finger food. The same goes with the sardines, though if we served sardines simply slathered with tomato sauce, we might as well buy the canned ones.

Main courses 
Crab omelet, chicken giblet adobo, beef steak

Cooking torta de cangrejo (crab cakes) is complicated, but making omelets out of them isn’t (the one we ended up making is actually similar to crab foo young).

Dessert
Coco jam with crackers, bibingka a la mode

Having jam as dessert is plausible, though I presume this was served with crackers or biscuits along with coffee and tea. As for the ice cream, Ocampo said this would not be readily available until the 1900s when th first ice plant was built in Manila, but it was possible the ice itself was imported.

Now what’s bibingka doing in the menu? Emilio Aguinaldo is said to have a personal bibingka maker, and its salary came out of the revolutionary government.

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Someone has yet to find out what our Founding Fathers had on June 12, 1898. It is possible they had lunch or even snacks, not to mention that snack treats such as bibingka and puto are a staple in Cavite. I wish there’s a way to find out. Come to think of it, the Malolos Banquet itself raises many questions about the history behind its dishes, but I will save that for the experts.

Food plays a great role in the history and culture of a country. The Malolos Banquet boasts to the world that the Philippines is a country with a rich culture and a civilized citizenry, and that it deserves independence. Also, it shows that our ancestors know how to wine and dine and party hard.

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Tune in to “Andar ng mga Balita” every Monday to Friday, 6:30 to 7:30pm on Aksyon TV Channel 41, for your daily dose of news, information, and FOOD! XD