Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945 (a book review)

What makes a city? It is more than just the mortar and stone in its buildings, or even the very people populating it. A key aspect of a metropolis is its supply lines for food and resources, which is the very thesis of Daniel F. Doeppers’ book, Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945.

 

Doeppers, a professor of Southeast Asian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has retold some of the most intriguing chapters of Manila’s history in terms of how its inhabitants regularly (or not so regularly) ate, drank, and sourced their basic needs from nearby provinces. The book goes into interesting details ranging from how the waterways of Bulacan and Malabon were changed to accommodate the rice trade, all the way to the rise of the popularity of chocolate as a beverage, and how it was displaced by coffee. Everything from animal and human diseases, fishing practices, and the potable water supply makes its way into the text.

Apart from these bits of trivia, Doeppers’ text also documents the rise of families and companies involved in the food industry, many of which are still big players in commerce to this day.

 

Although lengthy and at times tedious with its emphasis on economic trends and statistics, Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945 provides a fresh look into life in the city of Manila, especially for the denizens who hardly get a mention in textbooks. One gets a vivid sense of the ingenuity, tenacity and good humor characterizing the residents of this old city, all the way up to the devastation that befell it during the Second World War. It reminds people that much of human history is associated with the realities of existence such as feast and famine, all of which go on despite upheavals and grand events.

 

This book is a recommended read not only for anthropologists and scholars of Philippine History, but even for foodies and culinary enthusiasts. It is well thought out and spaced under easy to follow subject headings, making it suitable for earnest study as well as casual reading. Since we at Team Glasses Food Blog are not only foodies but also history geeks, this book was a particular treat.

 

Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945 is available from the Ateneo de Manila University Press at Bellarmine Hall, Katipunan Avenue. More details may be found at www.ateneopress.org.

(featured image from wikipedia)

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Strawless Saturday

One concern that has crossed our minds time and again is the amount of plastic and other waste that is inevitably generated whenever we go out to eat. While opting to ‘dine in’ instead of taking out our food ‘to go’ saves a great deal in terms of plastic bags, paper cartons and other packaging, there are still other ways that plastic is unnecessarily used in restaurants, cafes, and other establishments. One example is the use of plastic straws, to the point that these plastic tubes seem like de rigeur garnishing to one’s iced tea and fruit juice.

 

It was estimated by National Geographic that 500 million straws are used each day in America alone. Although plastic straws are only a small portion of the plastic debris generated each day around the world, they pose their own form of danger especially to marine life. Oftentimes plastic straws are not recycled and thus end up recklessly discarded in places such as our waterways. When plastic straws make their way to the ocean, they can end up being ingested by turtles, fish, and even birds who mistake these for food. Plastic straws can also entangle animals, making them suffer painful injuries or even maiming them for life. Since plastic straws do not decompose easily, they can stay in our oceans indefinitely.

 

This is why we at Team Glasses practice what we have nicknamed “Strawless Saturday”, which is basically not using plastic straws when we dine out. Sometimes it is just as simple as asking the wait staff to refrain from giving us straws in our drinks. Of course, this practice isn’t limited only to weekends; even on our weekday or after school jaunts we eschew straws too.

 

At first it was not easy to start our Strawless Saturdays. Reaching for a straw had become part of our muscle memory, and it took a little reminding for us to learn to do otherwise. However, we soon got used to sipping our drinks the old-fashioned way, setting the straws aside altogether.

 

Nevertheless, we know that there are some people who, for health or hygiene reasons, insist on using straws in their drinks. Thankfully, alternatives to plastic straws are now becoming hip and available, such as metal straws. These durable and reusable straws are safe for culinary use, and are as easy to carry around as personal cutlery. Some restaurants we’ve visited such as Bucky’s and Wild Poppy are also regularly using metal straws for their beverages and desserts.

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Note the metal straw

Metal straws can be ordered online from stores such as Sip PH, or services such as Lazada. This little step can go a long way in keeping our oceans safe, not only for humans but for all creatures that live in it!  

Featured image taken from: https://commons.wikimedia.org

Sunday finds: Kapoke

Kapoké

For a good many people, the idea of eating ‘raw fish’ is equated to eating Japanese specialties such as sushi, sashimi, or our local Pinoy kinilaw. More finicky folks may insist they are eating fish tartare. In recent years though, a new food craze has given these Asian classics new life.

Poké (pronounced as poʊˈkeɪ) has its origins in Hawaii, where it is usually served up as an appetizer. The main base for poké is raw fish or seafood, mixed with onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and other seasonings. Innovative chefs have made new poké combinations with varying sauces such as the infamous Sriracha, and new toppings such as mushrooms and mangoes. One such enterprise here in Metro Manila is Kapoké, a friendly weekend stall enterprise that allows customers to also experiment with their own combinations for poké.

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One breezy Sunday lunchtime, we found Kapoké while exploring a weekend market near our usual haunts. And on their menu, we had to choose the different parts of our customized poké meal. Being first timers in the art of the poké, they were more than happy to guide us along with crafting our bowl. Every bowl is composed of a base (salad greens, sushi rice, and plain rice), your choice of fish (tuna, salmon, or a combination), and a selection of toppings and condiments like green onions and sesame seeds to esoteric ones like chicharon bits, nori, and wasabi mayo.

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Unlike other very strongly seasoned fish dishes, our poké bowl turned out to be light and refreshing. We selected sushi rice with salmon, cabbage, green onions, sesame seeds and chicharon bits, topped with wasabi mayo for a subtle kick. It was right on the money with how most ingredients did not overlap the other. The wasabi wasn’t overpowering and was still able to enhance the flavor of the salmon, while the greens and seeds gave it a crunchy texture. One nitpick is that the sushi rice could have used a bit more mirin-rice vinegar to further stand out. This aside, we definitely enjoyed our shared bowl during that lovely Sunday lunch, and we look forward to trying more poké combinations in the near future.
Kapoké can be found each Sunday at the Legaspi Market, located at Herrera st. cor Legazpi and Salcedo V.A. Rufino St, Legazpi Village, Makati City.

Tablea Xiao Long Bao

Tablea Xiao Long Bao…say what??

 

This is not a drill.

 

One of the frustrations stemming from my food restrictions is a moratorium on eating dumplings and other dim sum, unless I can ascertain its contents all the way down to any additives or seasonings. The particular dumpling I have come to miss is the Xiao Long Bao, that famed soup dumpling purportedly originating from Shanghai. These are usually filled with a mixture of pork and broth, served almost hot enough to scald a careless eater’s tongue.

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I thought myself resigned to having to make my own dumplings until an unexpected side trip to this year’s Ultimate Taste Test event held in Makati City. Among the many delectable and eye-catching entries, one immediately grabbed my attention: the tablea xiao long bao courtesy of Sabaw Dumplings. I had to blink several times to make sure I had read the menu correctly, but there was no mistake. Right in front of me were freshly steamed dumplings filled with melted dark chocolate enclosed in a chocolate dough wrapper.

I was warned not to bite into my tablea xiao long bao, in order to prevent the liquified chocolate from oozing out onto my hands or my clothes. With this advice in mind, I carefully popped the first of three dumplings in my mouth, and wound up with an explosion on my tongue, as if I had taken a shot of a very thick hot chocolate drink. After a little while I was able to more safely enjoy the other two dumplings, and appreciate the slightly nutty, bittersweet flavor of the tablea filling. Who would ever have considered xiao long bao as dessert?

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In Lee’s case on the other hand, he had a go at the bula long bao. After two unsuccessful tries of pushing the dumpling into his mouth without popping the wrapper, third time was the charm. As he puts it, it was all the good hearty goodness of bulalo into one mouthful. The tender meat and potatoes to the slow cooked broth itself, it all exploded and provided a much needed kick for the food-heavy afternoon we both had. In hindsight, he posits, “I should have bought two orders for myself.” Only concern we might have would be not being sure about the actual ingredients and process into making the soup base, but otherwise, Lee still recommends it.

 

For more xiao long bao goodness, check out Sabaw Dumplings at their homepage on Facebook.

On Tagines and Pierogi: Al Fresco Dining at the Salcedo Market

Public and community markets are acquiring additional faces here in the Philippines. Although most markets are still comprised of rows of stalls housed in large buildings and divided into ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ sections, other set ups such as night markets and open-air markets have been established in some communities. One example is the Salcedo Market, which is open on Saturday mornings at Jaime Velasquez Park, in Makati City. This weekly market is not only a place to acquire some choice organic produce, meats, fish, and deli items, but it is also a haven for diners seeking comfort food as well as less well-known cuisines in a more relaxed environment than a food park or restaurant.

We decided to have a late breakfast-early brunch here on one lazy weekend. It took us some time to browse through all the stalls offering all kinds of foods from sandwiches to paella. Eventually we decided on some chicken saffron tagine from The Real Moroccan Cuisine and pierogi dumplings from Babci.

The chicken saffron tagine was served on a bed of saffron rice, with an olive garnish. Although the saffron rice was a little lacking in flavor, the chicken had a distinct lemony taste with hints of saffron that played well on the taste buds. The meat itself was falling off the bone; another sign of careful slow cooking. The black olives were firm, soft, and flavorful, complimenting the dish as a whole,but perhaps they should watch a bit more closely to removing the pit in order to prevent accidents. In summary, it was a very filling dish that would do well to keep you from feeling hungry throughout the day.

Pierogi are filled dumplings, originating from Poland. Babci offers a whole range of pierogi fillings ranging from traditional ones such as sauerkraut and potatoes, to more innovative creations including chocolate and fruits. Since we were having brunch, we decided on a trio of savory pierogi: potato with cheese and onion (also known as ruskie, a classic meat mix, and last but not the least, cabbage with mushrooms and a hint of truffle oil.  All of the pierogi came topped with caramelized onions and cream. The ruskie had a rich but not overwhelming flavor, with the perfect balance of both cheese and onion. The meat pierogi was strongly seasoned, but without being overly salty for enjoyment. On the other hand, the truffle oil lent a distinct sharpness to the last pierogi, but that soon gave way to the subtler flavors of mushrooms and cabbage. It was a welcome change from the more richly filled and flavors dimsum houses or other cuisines with a tradition of dumplings. Babci also offers a variety of sausages (served with pita bread or rice) that are made without extenders or excessive amounts of other preservatives.

Hopefully we will have another opportunity soon to sample more culinary treats from the Salcedo Market. It is fortunate to see many small and medium food enterprises emerging to give diners more healthy and diverse options to suit all palates and needs.

The Food Score: 4/5: Although there were some misses when it comes to the flavors of the pierogi and the chicken tagine, the dishes on the whole were affordable, filling, and satisfying to eat.

Ambiance/Service Score: 5/5: One feature of the Salcedo Market is al fresco dining. The ambiance is bustling but relaxed, conducive at least for casual conversation or taking a rest before rushing off to peruse more items in the stalls. The market is clean, organized, and safe on the whole

GERD Score: 4.5/5: The Real Moroccan Cuisine and Babci offers savory food spiced just the way we like them, as such isn’t a problem unless these have your triggers. But I do say that the serving size of the chicken tangine is great for sharing rather than taking it on alone.

Epilepsy Score:  5/5: Food options in The Real Moroccan Cuisine and Babci are free of preservatives and extenders. Non caffeinated teas and other drinks are available in the former establishment and in other stalls. The marketplace is a haven for health buffs after all.
Team Glasses Score: 4.5/5 Although there is still room for improvement with the food and the set-up of the market, this is a promising place for foodies and those interested in healthy eating and organic products.

Knackering for a crunchy snack: Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar

It’s no secret that Kat and I love learning new things about science, and it sure was a treat seeing advances, advocacies, and innovations during our adventure in this year’s National Science and Technology Week by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

To our surprise and delight, the said event also gave us more than mental stimulation; it also helped us to find food we can actually eat due to our respective conditions. In the same place we discovered RiMo Curls, we found the Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar, a locally produced and healthier equivalent to the rice krispies snack.

IMG_4549Compared to regular rice, brown rice is a good source of dietary fiber, and also includes vitamins and minerals like B6, magnesium, niacin, thiamine, and manganese. Typically, it has a more chewy texture, which is something Filipinos are not quite used to compared to white rice. Given this particular problem (even if it’s the healthier option), how to get Filipinos and especially kids to eat more brown rice?

 

NutriDense Corp, along with technologies by the DOST – Food and Nutrition Research Institute, came up with Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar. It’s made out of brown rice crispies, honey, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, soy protein, and iodized salt.

My first bite reminded me of the Kelogg’s rice krispies cereal, but with contrasting flavors which improved it all together. The dried fruits added a touch of sweet and sour to the overall texture, while the sesame seeds and nuts gave another layer of crunch. Thankfully it was only mildly sweet because the makers used honey instead of refined white sugar. However, the nuts and soy ingredients pose a concern to those who have allergies to these ingredients.

We also have the energy bar’s nutritional facts in the image below. Given this, we think it’s a good step in the right direction since most of our locally-made snack bar selections are not on the healthy side of things.

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Brown Rice Nutty-Fruity Bar is manufactured and distributed by Nutri Dense Food Manufacturing Corporation. For more information, please contact the company at:

2/F UP-ISSI Bldg. E. Virata Hall, E. Jacinto St., UP Diliman Compound, Quezon City, Philippines

TeleFax No: (075) 600 8251

Mobile No/s: +63 999 729 0234 / +63 916 641 8611 / +63 923 703 2198

Email: nutridensefmc@yahoo.com.ph

RiMo Curls: A creatively healthy snack

For just a moment, imagine being in the shoes of a kid in a candy shop with a sizable amount of cash to buy anything and everything from the place. However, there is a catch; one can only select from the lesser types of sweets one doesn’t care much for.

In a way, this is the experience of how we at Team Glasses Food Blog haven’t had chips / crisps / curl snacks in a long while now, because of our respective health concerns. We honestly thought we couldn’t have anymore of those types of snacks anymore. But in a stroke of good luck (and a lot of science), we found ourselves eating those words after finding out about RiMo Curls.

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During the last day of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)’s National Science and Technology Week, Kat and I were roaming around to satiate the craving for science, innovation, and of course, food. A poster caught my attention of rice and monggo beans (mung beans) being turned into a crunchy and ready-to-open snack, aptly named RiMo Curls. We soon out that this is made possible by the technology applied from the DOST’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute

Now, one may think, ‘Well, there are plenty of healthy snacks right there, why is this one any special?’ However, RiMo Curls is a snack worth trying among the plethora of ‘healthy’ snack foods on the market. Many older versions of healthy snacks have much to be desired in terms of texture or taste, but with this snack, there’s a different and longer lasting crunch after the pack has been opened.

The rice and monggo flour blend is an interesting choice of ingredients since I normally only see these two during meals with one on top of the other. The cheese flavor is thankfully, only lightly applied and not overwhelming in terms of flavor.

 

Here are some more reasons to enjoy RiMo curls:

  1. It’s protein and energy rich!
    • It contains 120 kcal of energy (8.5% of recommended daily energy needs for children 4 to 6 years old)
    • It also contains 3 grams of protein (7.9% of recommended daily protein intake for children 4 to 6 years old)
  2. It’s iron and zinc fortified
  3. Low salt content (and it really is since each bite wasn’t coated with thick amounts of cheese powder or other seasonings)
  4. And it’s gluten free too

We hope to see this snack, and others of its caliber, becomes more readily available throughout the country. We definitely enjoyed it and hopefully those with our conditions can too in the future.

RiMo Curls is manufactured and distributed by Nutri Dense Food Manufacturing Corporation. For more information, please contact the company at:

2/F UP-ISSI Bldg. E. Virata Hall, E. Jacinto St., UP Diliman Compound, Quezon City, Philippines

TeleFax No: (075) 600 8251

Mobile No/s: +63 999 729 0234 / +63 916 641 8611 / +63 923 703 2198

Email: nutridensefmc@yahoo.com.ph