Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You like some Choc' lat meat?

A lot of Filipino is good:  adobo, pancit, sinigang, etc. etc. I eat that shit up like nobody's business. I mean, it's so good that even when I'm beyond full and feel like I can eat no more, I continue to eat it. I may  feel guilty afterwards, but that hardly crosses my mind at the time that I'm stuffing my face.

Some Filipino food however, is quite ... questionable, to say the least: baby bird fetus', pig's blood, turtles. ::yuck:: Even though it should be in my blood to like it, my stomach cannot help but turn and do 360's at the thought of it. In my head I'm like,  if Andrew Zimmerman can eat that stuff, I can eat it.  Or not, lol. Maybe he's just a better Filipino than I am.

But I get it and I don't hate on anyone who does eat it.  When you come from a third world country, you eat what you can eat to survive. I just feel grateful that those aren't my only food choices to pick from on a daily basis.

What I don't get is why whenever someone non-Filipino is introduced to Filipino cuisine, like say - if you bring a friend over to keep you company during your brother's birthday and there's all this Filipino food -your Aunties, Uncles, your mom, your dad - you're whole family will try to get them to eat the questionable stuff first. Nevermind the  adobo, pancit, or the lumpia that  everyone loves from first bite, they are always peer pressured to eat the questionables. 

Dad: Come on, eat! Eat! try dis one....it's Choc'lat meat!

And there's always this sly, mischievous smile on their faces that lingers whenever they urge your friend to eat the chocolate meat, like they're playing some sort of evil trick on them. They even scoop the stuff in your friend's plate for them. Your friend, in the meanwhile, looks questionably on that dark, brown,... something-rather, their nose slightly crinkled as the thoughts cross mind  of : does it really taste like chocolate. And if it does, how is that possible ... if it's meat?  

"What ... is ... that?" your friend asks cautiously.

 "Choc'lat meat!", your crazy relative answers with a laugh. Then they all laugh.

It is then that you feel the need to save your friend from the family pressure. You explain to them that, no - it is not made from chocolate. but from pig's blood, boiled and flavored down to taste like adobo. As expected , they cringe as they process the facts in their brain.  You thwart any questioning they might have of but... how??, diverting their attention to the more delectable food items. As they bite into their first taste of adobo and lumpia, they temporarily forget they were even offered pig's blood, until the next day at school  when someone asks your friend how their weekend was and they'll remember: Good,  Winter's family offered me pig's blood, though. egghh...

Not that I'm speaking from personal experience, but it has been always a slight fear of mine that my non-Filipino friends would be grossed out or start gagging if one of my family members got them to eat dinuguan; they would forever be scarred for life and never want to come over to hang out with me. Thus, I always offered to plate up for them:

" I got it, no.. sit.. I got it.Sit ! I got it!" 

For a fraction of a second, I give them a frantic, stern look to get them to sit back down so I could take care of their plate. They are a little alarmed that I would take the slightly demanding (crazy) tone, but I follow up with smile.

 "I just want to make sure you get all the good stuff." 

With that, they concede and I am put to ease knowing my guest does not have to deal with my family trying to get them to eat the questionables. 

At the end of the day, I know you can't change what people eat / what people like to eat, and other people are always going to have this perception that certain foods that some people eat are gross. (eww, he's eating frog legs, eww... they're eating guts!) Shoot, I was watching Anthony Bourdain who was in Africa, and they were eating rats. Rats, I tell you! and I was totally grossing out over that. But it is what it is, and people do what they need to do to survive and make the best out of what they have. I just need to not hate on that. 

In the meantime, my crazy Filipino relatives need to stop calling it chocolate meat, because that is so not what it is.