My Mother's side of the family has been known for serving a good table at any occasion. Well, it did not hurt that my abuela Aurelia owned and operated a restaurant for over fifty years. I remember taking my vacation at San Jose de Buenavista in the Province of Antique as a child, and before first light, the household would already be active to prepare the day's menu.
Unlike the more western concept of what a usual restaurant set-up is, which requires food to be cooked as you order, the average hometown restaurant in early 1950s Philippines had a set menu that was cooked in mass quantities everyday and displayed inside a glass 'escaparate' or display cabinet for people to choose from. By 10:30 to about 11:00am, the viands prepared or cooked in sauces like Menudo [porked stewed with vegetables in tomato sauce], Caldereta [often spicy meat stew], and Callos [tripe stew with garbanzos, poatoes, and bell peppers] need to be displayed at the escaparete and the soup based ones like the sour soup Sinigang -still piping hot- are ladled straight from their cooking pots. Customers would arrive and take a look at the escaparate and would point to what they wish to be served; perhaps the root of the term Filipino term turo-turo -the word turo literally meaning 'point at'- which is a common name for the local eateries of late.
Ihe images contained in this post were taken during the fiesta celebration at Balay de los Reyes last May 1st. My Abuela's restaurant has ceased operations since 2003, but when we can, we cook the food that she was known to have served and served best. With the many changes that have transpired through the years, the Barefoot Baklesa is thankful that the only constant thing is the food we have learned to cook and serve. And thank God for Nanay Elsie for keeping the recipes alive.
Food has always been a universal thread in all human contact. A guest is served the best cut of meat, the family's best dish, or is treated to a local specialty when he arrives. The Filipino and Thai people are best known for their hospitality, mentioned more than one foreigner to the Barefoot Baklesa. A telltale sign that we have not totally lost our openness as a people -a trait often misconstrued as a failure by some critics of Filipino lapses in judgment. But to hell with that, says the Barefoot Baklesa -we are here to celebrate he best of the Filipino, aren't we?
The Barefoot Baklesa would like to take a closer look at Pinoy food culture the many facets that made it the way it is, thus expect some more cuisine culture related posts soon.