[Food Porn] Crispy cravings

MANILA, Philippines - There are cravings one cannot ignore. These are the tinges of delight that lurk beneath any stoic surface. They patiently wait in the shadows before worming their way to your consciousness. It starts as a nudge, an implant in your mind, a passing fancy that dares you to ignore it. It then takes root – like a python beginning its deadly embrace upon its prey. Slowly but surely, the embrace tightens until there is no recourse but to surrender your whole being.

To eat or not to eat, that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mouth to allow the chunky portions of vinegar and soy sauce laced pork and chicken, sautéed with generous amounts of garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and a dash of salt or to have all of that in its newer reincarnation is always a struggle.

Today, it will be won by the flakes. First introduced by the renowned Glenda Barretto of the Via Mare chain sometime in 1975, crispy adobo flakes are a sinful version of the Philippines’ most famous dish.

We love crispy stuff…lechon skin, chicharon, crispy beef tadyang, danggit, tuyo, crispy squid, crispy chicken…even the famous tutong (that crisp portion of rice at the bottom of a pot). And so it was but natural that we also lean towards the crispy portions of adobo. But to shred them to hair-like strands of succulence, to split them into golden strings of fried goodness and to portion them into elegant shreds of lightness…that is a work of art.

I’ve seen the flakes served with a portion of adobo sauce on the side. Topping a spoon with the sauce and drizzled over the flakes just before you gorge on it can be a delightful experience – crunch meets savory swimming in your mouth. A generous portion of garlic fried rice and eggs (sunny side up or scrambled) creatively mashed into the rice is the ritual that starts the meal. There must be equal portions of the yellow yolk spread across the once pristine plate. It just must be.

RICE PLUS. Garlic rice and eggs complete the delight.

RICE PLUS. Garlic rice and eggs complete the delight.

Satisfied craving

One then purposefully gathers a portion of the flakes (hearing them quietly break is a good sign that crunch is around the corner), pushes it onto the spoon that now has the egg soaked garlic fried rice and the craving is now about to be satisfied.

There is imminent danger in this dish. With the regular version, one can visualize just how big a portion is on the plate. With flakes, your eyes get fooled by what seems to be a small portion given that there are spaces between the strands.

Delight is too weak a word to describe the sensation. It is a homecoming complete with marching band and fireworks! There are the crunchy strands that magically become one in the mouth, mixed with bits of uneven strands that you discover as you chew. There is a familiar taste presenting itself in a brand new way. There is a swirl of activity that rises to a chorus as you prime yourself for that next spoonful…and the next. It weakens your resolve to diet.

Sparing oneself from satiety, there are the helpful support groups surrounding the flakes. There are the chopped tomatoes mixed with diced onion bound by salted egg that cannot be ignored. They act as a palate cleanser in an odd sort of way. They are the pianissimos of the concerto before you. There are the array of possible dipping sauces that accompany most Filipino meals – the vinegar laced with chilis or garlic or both, the patis that I have as a guilty pleasure or the extra serving of adobo sauce…all raising their hands to be a part of the meal.

ON THE SIDE. Vinegar with chilis or garlic is one of the dip options.

ON THE SIDE. Vinegar with chilis or garlic is one of the dip options.

There are cravings that one cannot ignore. For they mean more than just a lurking desire that awaits release from captivity or an imprisoned being awaiting release. One cannot crave for something one has not had…even but once in your life.

A craving means you remembered an amazing experience and want to relive it. It means that there was a moment in time that you relish because it meant something. A craving takes you back to a time, a place, a person or a moment that was significant – and one that you would willingly surrender to all over again.

There are cravings that one cannot ignore. And when they surface, it means you have lived. - Rappler.com

 

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