Street Food, Anyone?
They’re tasty, inexpensive and convenient. Indeed, street food has gained in popularity through the years because they are not only readily available, but may actually even be economically practical in these uncertain times. However, despite their sometimes positive attributes, the type of food may actually be the cause of diseases due to poor preparation and other unhealthful qualities. Here are a few things to consider when biting on that delicious burger or “isaw”.
The food stand. Food stands and/or counters are usually the places where street food are usually prepared and served. As such, look and see if the stand is properly cleaned as dirty stand or counter may harbor dangerous bacteria. If the stand has a grill or a pan for deep frying, see if the former is rid of grime and ask whether the latter’s cooking oil is regularly replaced.
The water& always the water. It’s understandable that roaming food vendors don’t have an immediate source of water. Indeed, most of them bring along their own bottled water for cleaning and preparing food. This could be problem though as water could easily harbor germs and bacteria. As such, if you’re not sure about the vendor’s water, better think twice about buying the victuals for sale.
Eat hot… eat cold. Hot street food should be consumed hot, and cold street food should be consumed cold. Why? Simply because they’re freshly-prepared. Also, the shelf-life of most street food are notoriously short.
KNOW YOUR STREET FOOD
Forearmed is forewarned – at least when it comes to identifying the street food you’re contemplating on tasting. Here’s a short list of the ‘exotic’ street food to be found in the Philippines.
Head or helmet. This is literally the barbecued head of a chicken. Surprisingly, the name’s provenance actually refers to a certain t-shirt brand called, what else? “Head.” Sometimes, it is also referred to as “helmet.”
IUD or Isaw. This refers to chicken entrails, skewered on a barbecue stick. It is said to resemble an intra-uterine device or IUD in common parlance. Thus, the name. It is also called isaw ng manok (chicken). Isaw may also refer to a part of a pig’s intestines, specifically the last portion that has lots of fat. Isaw like IUD is barbecued.
Betamax. This refers to cubed, curdled chicken blood, that is then barbecued. A variation of this delicacy is actually that of cooking the cubed blood adobo-style before barbecuing. No one really knows how this delicacy acquired its name. Others hazard the guests that the cubed blood resembles the shape of the betamax tape.
Adidas. This athletic shoe brand refers to chicken feet, cooked adobo-style or marinated, then barbecued.
Kwek=Kwek and tokneneng. Kwek-kwek is chicken egg or ‘balut’ dipped in ‘orange-y’ batter then deep fried. It is then eaten with a dip made of vinegar, onions and birds-eye chili. Tokneneng is a smaller version, albeit it uses quail eggs instead. However, the tokneneing is usually eaten as is.
Walkman. This is pig’s ears which is again barbecued. Again, a variation of the walkman involves cooking it adobo-style before skewering and barbecuing.
Day-old. This refers to literally ‘day-old chick’s that are deep-fried to a crisp and eaten with a dip of sauce or vinegar.
Proven. This is probably the latest addition to the list of Pinoy street food. This barbecued chicken part comes from a portion of the chicken’s entrails that is harder than most. It is cooked adobo-style or marinated then barbecued.
Hotcakes. They are small pancakes cooked in small moulds. The way it is served is sandwich-style, with a filling in the middle. This is not a prevalent in the streets as it is usually cooked using a special mould/pan.
Others. Of course, Pinoy street food won’t be complete without mentioning the ubiquitous fish balls and squid balls; and lately, the kikiam – all of which are seafood based and deep-fried. Likewise, the taho, balut and binatog (boiled corn kernels) are still available and going strong, as is the seasonal ‘iskrambol’ (native shake).
Seemingly gone, however, are the kaligay and the carioca. The kaligay is a specie of shellfish that is boiled and sold by the cupful and the carioca is a bread-like confection dipped in syrup.