detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Monday, December 06, 2004

: . Book of the Month

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Filipinas 1847: Jose Honorato Lozano
by Jose Maria A. Cariño
Manila: Ars Mundi, Philippinae, 2002.
Hardcover, 285 pages
Php 4,300.00, US $86.00
ISBN 9719258101


Food Stall

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Aside from the different kinds of food sold in the streets by the Chinese which we have described, aside from the buyo [betel nut] stalls and those in which the natives sell puto [rice cake], sugarcane, roasted or boiled corn, the natives also have food stalls called carinderías. These are a type of refreshment stand located in houses or in places where clients are highly concentrated, where the food is displayed much in the same way as is shown in the drawing. The food generally consists of different viands, cooked in the typical native way, aside from the essential morisqueta, which is white rice simply cooked in water. The caré [kare-kare] is composed of feet or hocks and internal organs of the cow of bull, with some cabbages which give it flavor. The fritada is a dish prepared with bull meat, pork and many spices, while the mole is also made with beef and pork. All these dishes are yellow because of the spice called achiote. Unfortunately, the native cooks use this spice even in roasts, to the dismay of Europeans. The average price of these dishes can be estimated at four to eight cuartos [a cuarto is the smallest denomination of coins], depending on the quantity of food that the person consumes.
As can be seen in the drawing, the furniture consists of two lancapes, a type of bench made of bamboo cane, with carajayes [pots] with food placed on top of one while another is used as the table. There is a pair of large earthen jars with water and a few other tabos [ladles] for taking water from it and for drinking. Generally, the natives also use these lancapes as beds, either with or without a bedroll.
These refreshment stands are frequented by artisans who are away from home, as well as people who do not have permanent residences. Ambulant vendors, carriers and tramps also eat there. At midday, a large number of women cigarette factory workers from Binondo go to these stands, located near the bridge in the same town, to eat. The owners of these, like the other stalls where food is sold, must provide credit to all their customers. When workers receive their weekly wages, they pay their debts, but sometimes do not pay them. It may be inferred that the stall owners have to bear much abuse because usually, the native has spent all his money when he receives his wages. Between paydays, he incurs so many debts which he must cover when he receives his pay. But there is no other recourse; as such is the indolence of the native. Inasmuch as almost all of the vendors know how to read and write, one can see them preparing and updating their respective debtor lists.

Chinese Chanchao Vendor

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Depicted in the drawing is one of the so called Chinese chanchao vendors. They ply the streets selling chanchao, which is a kind of black-colored sweet from China, or gulaman [jelly], as the natives call it. This is either sold by itself or with chia, a type of small grain, produced abundantly in China from an herb very much like basil.
They also sell honey sugar and bijon, which is a kind of flour noodle made from a special variety of very glutinous [sticky] rice, and also mongos, which are a type of small peas or carob bean. All these are sold by the Chinese and are eaten by the natives, either separately or combined. They are served in cups such as those on the top of the large basket carried by the Chinese vendor at one end of the pinga, as depicted in the drawing. Inside the large basket are kept the supplies of all the articles that he sells. In the container at the other end of the pinga, he carries water to wash the cups that he places in a small bucket on top of the tray. The rest of the water is for whoever wishes to drink it.
It would be quite difficult to enumerate the food items that the Chinese sell in the streets, more so to explain the condiments in them. The natives are very fond of them all, and eat them indiscriminately and at all times, for as long as they have cuartos to pay with. It must be told though that the most that one must pay for a ration of the articles sold by this type of Chinese vendor should not exceed two cuartos, or cuartas as the natives call them. However, despite this reasonable price, the cost is not little, considering what the Chinese vendor has to suffer while plying his trade. Firstly, there is no native who is content with whatever serving the Chinese offers. Secondly, the natives splash and scatter whatever is at hand. Thirdly, we must take into account the insults that the natives throw at them. Only the greed-induced patience of Chinese could suffer all these.

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