Have you ever heard the question “do you live to eat or eat to live?” I love food. I was raised by my Nanay to eat tuyo and talbos ng kamote with bagoong to lasagna, roast dinners and crème bruleè. I love tuyo and lasagna of course. When I travel, I make it a point to try delicacies from the pili nuts and kinunot (shark meat with malunggay leaves with vinegar and coconut milk) in Bicol, to arusit (seaweed) Palawan and kesong puti (white cheese) in Laguna. Of course, when I came to Europe, I knew I had to try real Italian cooking, authentic Spanish paella, Belgian chocolates and BEER BEER BEER!
In Spain, food seems to be so small. Of course I wasn’t quite surprised with the cuisine since Filipino food is very much influenced by Spaniards. The only difference is, their adobo, menudo and caldereta were not exactly the same as ours. I loved the small servings, the tapas and the idea of it. I love that it is a great beer match. I never realized that bread and crackers also went well with cerveza and wine. My favourite was the albondigas con tomate y patatas fritas (meatballs with tomatoes and friend potatoes), queso frita (fried cheese) and of course the paella. I never liked chorizo when I was a kid though. Whenever my Nanay made pancit, she would add chorizo, and I would pick it out of my plate. But then when I tried the real chorizo, I didn’t care anymore even if my lips and fingers were covered with oil. I’d eat the whole sausage if I could.
Spaniards, just like those in other Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Greece and France, love to eat and love food. You could taste their passion in the food. If blood, sweat and tears were added in the food to make it taste better, then I’d have it on my food always. The only cafeteria that I really enjoyed was in Spain. Not only was it cheap, the food was really good. The salads were crisp, and you could pour as much olive oil as you like.
The food in Britain, however, is ummm… (Long pause) Kidding aside, food in the UK is always served in big plates, overloaded with lots of meat and potatoes that swim in gravy. It looks like heart attack on a plate. Some dishes lack taste, but nevertheless all of them have character and a bit of history. Cornish pasties sometimes smell like feet, but if you are fan of meat pies and empanadas, these are the god of all meats in a pastry. They became very popular among coal miners way back when. Since it is the only thing that they could eat without cutlery. Of course there was a sandwich, but their fingers would be black as ebony, so they prefer pasties because they can throw the crusts away.
I never liked Cornish pasties because I am not a fan of liver. I do like ham and cheese pasties however. Apart from this, Sunday is always celebrated with a roast dinner. Any meat roasted matched with roast potatoes, five to seven kinds of boiled vegetables and a lot of gravy. The roast is great, the gravy tastes so good. The vegetable usually is soggy. I am also a fan of cottage or shepherd’s pie. Both are not really pies since they are minced beef or lamb topped with mashed potatoes, cheese and ground cornflakes. Of course, the gravy is still there.
I must admit, I became thin and healthy in Spain. And a bit chubby with a beer and cider belly in the UK. I like eating in both countries. And I love the beer. I really love the beer in the UK because they have a wider selection compared to Spain. I guess I’d be drinking loads if I were in Germany too! The thing with European food? They always outdo themselves whether in portions or taste. Big or small, I guess the food usually is good.
Vera Christine F. Horigue
Joint European Master of Science in Water and Coastal Management (2006-2008)
Universidad de Cadiz, Spain and University of Plymouth, United Kingdom