Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pililla Eats

As mentioned in my previous post, I spent Holy Thursday and Easter morning doing missionary work in Pililla, Rizal, a rural poor town about 50km north of Makati. Before I start talking about some of the local food I just wanted to share this picture.

St Mary Magdalene Parish Church in Pililla is 425-years old and made of stone. It’s been preserved and restored amazingly well and I’m sorry I didn’t get to take a snapshot of it. But this is a photo of the Virgin Mary in the Church’s courtyard. It’s a pretty huge statue, probably 6 ft tall or so? The church takes care of 4 dogs and I found this scene after having dinner with my co-missionaries and parish priest. The dogs really know whom to seek for shelter!

Anyway, here’s some local food I came across in the Church parking lot.

I love love love peanuts, especially local ones. Planter has nothing on Pinoy roasted garlic peanuts, and I’m not talking about the junky MSG-laden nuts too! A 1-1.5 oz bag of roasted garlic peanuts was P10 or 21 US cents which was a nice distraction from falling asleep during Christ’s 7 Last Words (sorry Jesus). When I take the bus home from my real job (okay I’ve done it twice only) I love buying the same paper bag full of joy. Yum yum.

You can find this happiness-on-a-stick anywhere in the country but it was especially wonderful in Pililla as we trudged through one of the 3 processions we attended. The tindero didn’t skimp on the brown sugar, thank God. I think it was also P10 for 2 saba bananas.

This cart is owned by a man I like to call Green Mango Guy. His cart is attached to his bike so he can pedal wherever he pleases, peddling his awesome green mangoes.

You can tell he’s a skilled green mango connoisseur – he knows where to cut in the right places and how to carve out the skin.

He lays each green mango in a plastic bag on egg crates for easy display to the salivating customers. I recommend getting the green mango that almost looks yellow / ripe.

Didn’t I say he was an expert? He isn’t like us regular folk who cut out mango skin piece by piece. He carves out the skin in one piece, which looks very octopi-like.

This is one thing you won’t find anywhere else, I tell you. Green Mango Guy makes his own ultimate green mango topping: chili salt. He pounds rock salt with sili labuyo / bird’s eye chili until the chili goodness melts into the salt. He then sieves off the chili, leaving this perfectly orange-hued spicy salt (the other topping option was bagoong or fermented salted shrimp paste that smells like the death of the ocean).
The perfect merienda: ripe-ish green mango topped with chili salt. Bliss for only P7 or 15 US cents. I miss this already!

I love love love Green Mango Guy’s chili salt. I think other variations that would work well with green mango are
[1] salt + chili + sugar, and
[2] salt + chili + fried garlic

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