A fly in my siopao

In celebration of the one-year birthday of this piece, I am uploading it into this blog.

EXOTIC cuisine is not for the faint of heart. Or, for that matter, the weak of stomach.

But many individuals—self-styled sophisticates and self-proclaimed
gourmets—have always looked forward to their next culinary adventure, be it Mediterranean or Asian fusion. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am not one of them.

Just about the only culinary expertise that I can ever claim to have, aside
from eating, is the ability to discern the four basic types of beer. These are pale pilsen, which is marked by a pale flavor; dry, distinguished by a dry flavor; light, which has a light flavor; and, last but not least, free, which has an excellent taste that leaves a tingling sensation on the palate, a soothing effect on the throat, and a healthy, ruddy glow on the cheek. These characteristics make free beer one of the tastiest drinks of all time. However, unlike pale pilsen, dry, and light beer, free beer is not widely available, especially when you have friends who think that the world owes them a drink. (But then again, that’s another story best told as soon as one other booze buddy shares his Irish beer with me, gratis et amore.)

Although I am always on the lookout for free beer, I remain a meat and
potatoes kind of guy, always making sure that whatever I put in my mouth—at least for nutritional purposes—should be boiled, broiled, fried,
baked, or sauteed. This explains why sushi is not in my top ten list of favorite food, which, by the way, includes beer. After all, when you get down to it, beer is simply liquefied malt, hops, and barley. Nothing really exotic about that.

Which is not something I can say about my recent culinary adventure, to use the term loosely. While dining with my wife at a popular Chinese restaurant in the Greenhills shopping complex, I found a lifeless and fully cooked insect in my meal. I found a fly the size of a raisin
embedded in my Asado siopao.

Common sense told me not to put it in my mouth. Luckily, common sense prevailed.

Using my thumb and forefinger, I fished the very dead insect from flavorful chunks of meat for the viewing pleasure of my wife, the waiters, and other diners interested in what we were having for merienda.
When one customer saw that what I was holding up was not a piece of
sharksfin siomai, he looked thankful that he had gotten the beef brisket.
Unwilling to ruin anyone else’s appetite, my wife and I quietly summoned a waiter and asked for an explanation.

The response, delivered quite curtly by the manager, was slow in coming,
just like the beef wonton mami that my wife and I shared. Besides blaming their siopao supplier, the manager did not even offer to
make amends. In fact, she even had the temerity to ask us for payment,
saying that siopao was already excluded from the bill.

We promptly walked out without paying.

After all, on top of the slow service and the unexpected side dish, we felt
insulted when the establishment was unable to offer us some house tea.

The Manila Times
October 6, 2005

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