My Top 10 Comfort Foods

After our mom passed away, my siblings now yearn for the food she prepared at home. We long for her lauya (pork stew with local vegetables), paired with any vegetable cooked in coconut milk, long pepper and lada (siling labuyo in Bicol). Lada is our small local chilli pepper that packs a lot of heat. These are our gastronomic equivalent of a warm blanket on stormy nights, our parent’s hugs and kisses, and our childhood memories.

Comfort food is emotional and subjective. It evokes a memory of love and warmth. It is usually connected with one’s favourite childhood dish or a positive association with a person, place or time. It is usually craved when tired, stressed, or lonely.

Let me share the comfort foods of my family and friends (and myself), and most importantly, where you can find them.

1. Bicol Express. The famous Bicol Express in its most authentic form. Long peppers (siling berde or siling mahaba) and pork slices cooked in coconut milk and pink shrimp paste. Camalig, Albay. (Feature image above).

2. Inulukan. Pinangat with river crabs (ulok in Bicol means river crab – not in Cebuano) and coconut meat filling. Camalig, Albay

Inulukan: Pinangat with coconut meat and river crabs. Check sidewalk vendors in Iraya, Camalig, Albay, Philippines.

Inulukan: Pinangat with coconut meat and river crabs. Check sidewalk vendors in Iraya, Camalig, Albay, Philippines. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

3. Laing. The rich and creamy dish is made of dried taro leaves, pork slices, siling haba (for an extra kick, add the Philippine bird chili or siling labuyo) cooked in coconut milk and pink shrimp paste. Camalig, Albay

Laing: Gabi or taro leaves, pork, and siling labuyo  cooked in coconut milk. Camalig, Albay, Philippines

Laing: Gabi or taro leaves, pork, and siling labuyo cooked in coconut milk. Camalig, Albay, Philippines. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

4. Kandinga. This dish is made of cubed pork heart and lungs, siling labuyo and vinegar.  It is served with fresh indian onion rings. It is a favorite pulutan for lambanog (local coconut wine) drinkers. Camalig, Albay

Kandinga: pork innards cooked in vinegar and spices. Served with freshly sliced pungent indian onions. Camalig, Albay. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Kandinga: pork heart and lungs cooked in vinegar and spices. Served with freshly sliced pungent indian onions. Camalig, Albay. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

5. My family’s favorite place: Small Talk Café’s Bicol pizza (photo), crispy tilapia, callos, pork chop, etc. They serve pizza with pinangat or Bicol express. Old Albay, Legazpi City.

Small Talk Café 's Bicol pizza. Old Albay, Legazpi City. Here, with my brothers Jesse and Jayson. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Small Talk Café ‘s Bicol pizza. Old Albay, Legazpi City. My brothers Jesse and Jayson love this pizza. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

6. Dear Manok’s Grilled Chicken. Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.

Dear Manok's Barbecued chicken paired with kangkong and garlic. Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Dear Manok’s Grilled Chicken leg with Garlic Kangkong in oyster sauce. Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

7. Crispy Pata. Deep fried pig knuckles served with a soy-vinegar and siling labuyo dip. Via Mare, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Via Mare's Crispy Pata evoked memories of fiestas and celebrations. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Via Mare’s Crispy Pata evokes memories of fiestas and celebrations. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

8. Kalkag Rice. Iloilo’s favorite, kalkag means sundried baby shrimps. It is perfect as a topping on fried rice. Via Mare, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Via Mare's Calcag Rice. Fried Rice topped with tiny baby shrimps. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Via Mare’s Kalkag Rice. Fried Rice topped with tiny baby shrimps. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

9. Sinigang na Tiyan ng Bangus. Milkfish belly, mustard green, eggplant and long peppers in tamarind sour broth. Via Mare, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Bangus belly in a sour broth and vegetables. Perfect during the rainy season. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Bangus belly in a sour broth and vegetables. Perfect for the rainy season. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

10. Pinakbet. Assorted vegetables in shrimp paste or fish sauce. Via Mare, UP Diliman, Quezon City

Via Mare's Pinakbet: Assorted vegetables sauteed in salty bagoong sauce. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

Via Mare’s Pinakbet: Assorted vegetables sauteed in salty bagoong sauce. Photo: Fr. Jboy Gonzales SJ

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s