22 October 2005

My streetfood heritage (A Lasang Pinoy III entry)

Street food ... something that the young and old alike share in the Philippines. In Baguio where I grew up, we loved having Snow Cream, a crushed ice concoction with milk and pineapple juice. Perfect cooler after running around in Burnham Park in the breezy afternoon! When at home, we would hear the shrill echo of "tahooooo!" in the neighborhood streets. We would run off to the kitchen, get our bowls and tall glasses, and line up for the Taho vendor to scoop up our share of the soybean curd, sweeten it up with arnibal (sugar syrup), and mix in sago (gelatinous balls) for good measure. And off to the front stairs we seat to enjoy our taho! And then there's the puto and kutsinta (rice cakes) vendor and his horn, his two cylindrical metal containers with domed covers tied at each end of a pliant bamboo pole, and balanced over one shoulder. And who wouldn't love halo-halo on a hot summer afternoon? Yep, even in Baguio, halo-halo is widely appreciated.

I miss the Snow Cream most especially. Their carts used to be abundant in Burnham Park, but I have seen no trace of them in years. They have been replaced by the stationary binatog vendors, with their vats of steamed corn and shredded coconut wafting lazily through the air.

***

Here in Manila, I got a taste of street fare the city has to offer. Most recently is this thing called Pares (pronounced as is). I can count with one hand the number of times I have eaten in a pares stall, particularly because ... well, I do not like eating out alone. Only when somebody invites me to eat in a pares stall do i get to do so. I have mentioned such a story in a previous post but did not come accompanied with photos. Here are some I took a couple of nights back.
A Pares stall in Makati Avenue
One order coming right up! (You're given a bowel of brownish rice and a soupy dish)
Nearby is a squidball vendor. Strange, after eating two orders of rice at the Pares store, one of my colleagues headed off to the squidballs and munched some more. Can't get enough of street food, eh?

And then there are the "processed" fruit vendors, with pineapples conveniently sliced for you (add a dash of salt and you're ready for a mouth-watering treat!). They also have skewered mangoes dipped in vinegar, and sliced seasonal fruits such as watermelons.

While Pares and the fruit stall produce is not part of my regular diet, Jollijeep offerings has definitely become one. Jollijeep is a fun Filipino term for those roadside stalls that offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, and merienda in-between. These stalls were originally modified jeepneys, with their wide window openings retrofitted with ledges to display the meals available for the day. Some have already been sized up in cellophane for take-out, while dine-in customers can have their order served on plates. You have to eat standing, though.

These jeepneys would position themselves on a strategic parking slot in Makati and pay for the entire day's parking fee. Business caught on, and soon these mobile food vendors sprouted everywhere. The local government caught on and offered stationary stalls with a fixed monthly rent instead. But the name Jollijeep (derived from the fastfood store Jollibee stuck. Street food on a "professional" level!

These stalls have even produced specialties. Like, the best place to get your laing fix is in Aguirre Street. And if you like lumpiang shanghai, you can get it near Salcedo Place. But if you're in a hurry, simply head off to the nearest Jollijeep store for a truly fastfood fare.

Still, I truly miss that cold, sweet concoction from my childhood years: the Snow Cream. Wish I could have a taste of that one more time ...

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