I love food, even though my own lean frame belies that fact (I blame my genetics for my metabolism). If there’s anything I would splurge on, it’s food, as my girlfriend can attest: I do not struggle to say no (mostly) to buying a new game from Steam, but it usually takes every bit of my own self control to not go have hotpot every dinner for the rest of my life.
Food is always glorious, but I don’t really view myself as a foodie. Don’t get me wrong: I love food, and I do have some strong opinions about it, and about the things I eat — but I never view these opinions as the cardinal, absolute truth, the last word about food.
A good sour sinigang1 with just a touch of heat, or, a nice, juicy, medium-rare steak — heck, even just a cheap slice of pizza is enough for me. I do have my opinions about food, but food is food is food: it’s usually hard for me to dislike it.
That being said, there are a few food items I strongly dislike, quite irrationally I freely admit. Everything else is fair game, more or less. For instance, I think that sinigang sa bayabas2 is a complete abomination, and should have never been created: it isn’t sinigang in the slightest, in my opinion, lacking the sour flavor that marks the true sinigang, and being overpowered by sweetness instead. I also have a somewhat strong aversion to quail eggs, having had a mishap with them in childhood that has completely damaged my view of them. I also dislike ube, that purple yam now so closely associated now with Filipino cuisine, but that dislike isn’t as strong as the other two: I just don’t like how it tastes.
My everyday fare, on the other hand, sometimes borders on the boring and habitual; then again, I don’t hate routine, and sometimes relish it. Jollibee Chicken Joy is a common lunch or dinner choice for me. If I’m at my usual coffee shop by dinner time (not unusual), I often get their avo toast, or opt for the chicken rice masala on their menu. And given a choice of restaurant to eat at, I have my “defaults”, if I’m not craving for anything in particular.
I mentioned hotpot earlier: a fairly new realization, on my part. When I was younger, my parents would sometimes bring us to dinner to some place serving hotpot, and to be honest, I didn’t appreciate it until fairly recently. A steaming pot of soup in front you, slices of meat, dumplings, some vegatables: I realized, what’s there not to love? If I could spend a whole week at Four Seasons, I would— perhaps, it might even make a dent on my frame.
There’s so many things about food that I enjoy, especially in the company of others, but even dining alone is an experience onto itself.
Yesterday morning, I went to my university to pick up my transcript of records. Although I didn’t graduate there, I still have fond memories of the place, and a lot of those memories are tied to food. I remember the late nights, after a show at one of the theater orgs I was part of, where we would chow down on late-ish dinner at the stalls across the school; I remember the quick lunches I had while playing Counterstrike with my friends; I remember the awesome Mexican food from a stall I frequented, and the folks I met while having lunch there.
So, I decided that my lunch would be at Aysee’s, a small joint across from the Philsports Arena that served sisig on a hot plate. Their sisig was iconic, especially during my college years. The place is humble: no aircon, cheap plastic seats, wooden tables. But the food was amazing to me. I had a platter of sisig, a cup of papaitan soup, and two cups of rice: I couldn’t be happier with it, and I would have gladly had more. And at that moment in time, I felt like I was back in college.
Food is more than fuel to me: it is part and parcel of my experience of life here on this planet. For me, spending a good meal with friends and family is the best expression of love I think I could give.