A cliché would say that who we are is what we eat. Food is not only essential for human needs but it defines our personality and beliefs. Moreover, we, Filipinos are fortunate to have the most mouth-watering delicacies that define our culture and strengthen our identity. Furthermore, we are even lucky because the most exciting and affordable Filipino food trip can be found at the streets of the Metro.
Nicanor Reyes St. (formerly Morayta) in Manila is not only the starting point of rallies going to Malacanang Palace but the home of Filipino street foods.
Filipino food can be interconnected with Filipino pop culture. Let the University Belt students of Manila be one of your guides. Food Carts in R. Papa and Morayta Street extending to Espana Boulevard can offer you fish balls, kikiam, and squid balls. Most of these street foods originated from China but has been accepted and loved here in the country. It’s delicious, easy to find and cheap.
Fish balls are considered as the classic Filipino street food because almost all Filipinos are familiar of it. This white, mini disc-shaped ground fish is fried until crunchy. Kikiam, on the other hand, is made with ground pork and vegetables wrapped in bean curd sheets then deep-fried until golden. It also costs 1 peso each. Squid balls are made from ground squids and fish shaped into mini-balls which mostly cost 2 pesos each.
While savoring the first batch of Filipino-loved street foods, the location itself can take us to history. Morayta has been a staple place for rallies towards and against the government from past to present.
Another batch that we should not miss is the all-time favorite kwek-kwek, isaw, betamax, addidas and bulaklak. Kwek-kwek is quail egg wrapped into an orange batter and deep fried until crispy. It cost 2 pesos and 50 centavos. Moreover, Isaw is barbequed chicken pig intestines that costs around 3 to 5 pesos each. It is usually placed beside barbeque, Betamax, and other street foods on stick. Betamax is made from dried chicken blood served and cut into small cubes resembling the aged Betamax tape. It may taste bad for others but a splash of vinegar mix will balance its taste. It also costs 3 to 5 pesos.
Addidas is not only a shoe brand but a name popularized by Filipinos for barbequed chicken feet. 5 pesos each will not give you guilt upon trying it. Bulaklak is a street food that can be resembled to a flower. Filipinos named the flower-shaped pig intestines because when it is fried, it will look like a flower. It cost around 3 pesos.
If we want to be more adventurous of tasting Filipino Street foods then we should go one level higher. Behold, helmet and one-day-old chick. Helmets are grilled chicken head that is unusual for others to eat but captures the exotic taste of Filipinos. It costs 10 pesos per 3 pieces. One-day-old chicks are one day old male chicks batter-fried until crispy. Because of its soft bones, you can eat all of its parts. It costs 5 pesos each.The latest addition to Filipino Street foods in Morayta are fried tofu, fried siomai and fried dumplings. These three are part of Chinese cuisine but is well accepted in the Philippines for its savory and crunchy taste. Fried tofu costs 1 peso each. Fried siomai and fried dumplings costs 5 pesos each.
All of the said street foods have three major kinds of sauce. We can choose from sweet, chili sauce, vinegar sauce, and spicy vinegar sauce. We could also mix it depending on our taste. Before ending our Filipino Street Food experience, a glass of a 5-peso cold gulaman or buko juice will top it all off.
Filipino Street foods are not just present to satisfy our complaining stomach in affordable ways. It is also a tool for getting to know more of our culture, our people, and the places that signifies our nationality. Through the streets where we eat and enjoy is a journey to the past and a reality in the present and a sneak peak of what’s in store in the future. We’ll never know, maybe, future leaders are there eating street foods in the streets of Manila. Again, Filipino Street Foods marks how simple yet adventurous Filipinos are. This is one of the reasons why in the midst of trials, we can still stand above the rest. Happy eating… Kain Na!