Manila '10 - Popular Manila Street Comfort Food 101 Point 1

It was a very sad Sunday - that day when Manila bid the Spanish galleon ship Andalucia goodbye. By the time we got there, there was a long line to get to the entrance gate. To make the long story short, I did not get to see it come and go because we went to the Manila Harbor a bit too late. I was disappointed that I was not able to see a reenactment of history. I did, however, take home something with me. It did not matter that I stood in line with the terrible Manila heat that day because hawkers were everywhere and they were selling food from my childhood days - the ones that I missed so much. They seemed to stick out from the crowd, at least for me, since I hardly see these treats in one location nowadays.

Here's what I saw in that historic day.

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Boiled Peanuts


We usually saw peddlers selling boiled peanuts in highways during our out-of-town trips to Tagaytay. They sell them per glass and put them in plastic bags for you. We would munch on these on our way home. Sometimes, we make our own by purchasing some dried ones and just boil them in water at home. (Warning: Do not eat too much or you'll end up in the bathroom.) Notice the ingenious and homemade wooden cart or kariton? This is a small version.

Popsicle Ice Cream

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The jingle will get stuck in your head but you will be glad for the Twin Popsies. These bicycle-ridden carts are one of the innovations contributed by Nestle but it is a relatively new addition to Filipino pop culture. The ice popsicles and ice cream you get here are the same as what you find in supermarkets which look more sanitary and are individually packed.

Traditional Filipino Ice Cream - Sorbetes

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Commercial ice cream makers are now trying to imitate the distinct sorbetes flavors. So far, no luck. Nothing in the market can compare to the taste of the unique Filipino ice cream. This ice cream comes in a very colorful cart and if you look inside, you'll find a metal cannister with three different flavors. The crowd favorites are strawberry, avocado, queso (cheese), ube, chocolate, melon and cookies & cream. You can ask for the cone or the cup.

Green Mango with Bagoong

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If we have the best ripe mangoes, it is also possible to say that you can eat the best unripe mangoes here in this country. You'll find vendors selling peeled green mangoes soaked in water. If you can't eat it plain, you might want to try putting some bagoong (usually made of shrimp) sauce on top to balance off the sour with the sweet. This can be done at home too (more sanitary). Just purchase some sweet bagoong in the grocery (sometimes we add tomatoes, regular white vinegar, sugar or salt to correct the flavor) and slice the green mangoes (carabao-type mango is especially sour, indian mango for the sweeter kind).

Fish Balls

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Good fish balls are hard-to-find nowadays but the sauces are one-of-a-kind. I remember each fish ball would cost around P0.25. I used to enjoy picking the bloated (cooked) ones one by one from the frying pan and dipping them in the special sauce (sweet, spicy or mix them). (Note: Stay away from those who double-dip.) We can fry the fish balls at home but we can't ever replicate the sauce.

Fresh Philippine Coconut - My Pick of the Day

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Fresh coconut juice can be bought for P20 nowadays. I prefer to drink lots of coconut juice and the soft and eat some sweet coconut meat. I told the vendor that I wanted a (young) coconut with manipis na laman/mala-uhog (coconut with thin-meat/like your runny-nose "byproduct" consistency). They also have those that have more meat/mala-kanin (but it's tougher) and have less juice. The vendors almost always get it right just by performing the "Pitik test" on the coconut. You can also have the juice that's already prepared in a plastic barrel but I recommend the unopened coconut. Make sure to bring a pitcher or indulge and drink from the plastic like the locals do (we also do this for softdrinks bought from a sari-sari store).

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There are still lots to include (those that I eat) in this list. Some of them are the popular taho, banana-Q, kamote-Q, turon, cotton candy, steamed corn with cheese or butter, blackened corn, barbeque, squid balls, kikiam, colorful sago't gulaman and balut.

Opportunities of a lifetime where everything collide come in the most unexpected moments.

Manila '10 - Popular Manila Street Comfort Food 101 Point 1