(Puso is a rice wrapped in coconut leaves which is served in streetfood places in Cebu City)
This month's Pinoy Travel Blog Carnival host Anton Diaz defines an awesome food experience as "something that is memorable and the type of a legend story that you can tell your kids and grand kids over and over again".
In keeping with that definition, I was reminded of my family's street food experience while vacationing in Cebu City last November 2010. My family and I really had an amazing and rewarding food experience at what the city dubbed as "Larsian" and "Pungko-Pungko", which are up to now are "household" words among my family.
Street food is ready-to-eat foods or beverages, which includes many types of foods ranging from cereal and fruits to cooked meats and drinks which is cheap, and sold in flexible quantities in busy public areas.
I have never eaten street food before our family's trip to Cebu City, Philippines, even though, I know that trying street food could be culturally enriching since street food is an interwoven part of the local economy. Blame it on my allergist's long list of what-not-to try due to my allergies with beef, fish and anything rich in potassium. Also, I do not prefer sweet and sour dishes and the way a familiar food such as chicken could be cooked a thousand different ways in the places I visit. So the safest bet is any shrimp dish ordered from the hotel restaurant or the several fast food chains eh like Mc Donalds, Jollibee, KFC and Chowking.
But traveling with my whole family of 19 (10 are kiddos) and staying in Cebu City for five (5) days, (which equally equates it to the food taking the biggest chunk of the vacation budget),led me to my amazing, cheap, convenient, and authentic Cebu tummy adventure at Larsian and Pungko-Pungko.
Larsian and Pungko-Pungko have become a staple food hubs for tourists and holidaymakers in Cebu City and have become part of this City's identity and culture expressed in the cuisine and culinary traditions available cheaply and conveniently for big groups like my family.
Larsian is one of Cebu City's most prominent barbecue havens with tons of barbecue stands offering selections of squid, fish, all parts of chicken and pork cooked as you order.
Larsian was a busy place at 7 in the evening (as it opens from late afternoon up until dawn) with all kinds of people rich and poor savoring the unique experience.
As everyone enjoyed eating their chosen barbecues with puso (rice wrapped in coconut leaves), my family gamely ate as well with a plastic wrapped around the hands (in lieu of spoon and pork).
To get more of the Cebu City street food tripping experience, we walked to the nearby JY Square in Lahug to eat at the well-talked about Pungko - Pungko.
Pungko - pungko is a Visayan term for the act of squatting. We were told that in the old times, there were no tables and chairs so people would squat down and eat so it was termed "pungko - pungko". As the years passed, tables, chairs and tents were added like what we have now.
Unlike Larsian (where chosen barbecue is grilled as you order), pungko - pungko food are pre-fried food stuff like egg, veggie roll, pork intestines, chorizo, fish, squid, and a lot more, placed inside square trays or baskets and lined up on the table. Customers just sit down, put plastic around the hands (in lieu of spoon and pork, seems to be the common practice ),get any fried stuff, dip them in spicy vinegar and soy sauce and eat with puso! Customers just memorized what they have eaten for proper accounting at the end.
Though the location was a bit inappropriate (being at a corner of a busy street with smoke belching jeepneys passing by ), the food looks clean and tasted okay. Of course, if you are a bit sensitive I won't recommend the place.
So when we speak of Cebu City - my family and I are reminded of Larsian and Pungko-Pungko which translates to eating great food while learning the City's culinary cultural tidbits.
This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for July 2011 with the theme “Awesome Food Experience While Traveling In The Philippines”, hosted by Our Awesome Planet's - Anton Diaz.