Noodles. I believe that noodles have the best chance of making it as “universally acceptable” food. If the Earth conquered the rest of the known universe, its warriors should bring noodles with them as peace offerings to different planetary inhabitants. Noodles will bring peace and stability to the war-torn galaxies. The trend can start among the nations of this planet…
…aaaand that’s jumping way ahead of our lifetime and sounds too inspired by hallucinogens.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my job entails a lot of traveling to the different provinces of the Philippines. Generally, the experience has been very gratifying for me. I get see the country, work and enjoy it. One habit I picked up over the years of working as a regularly traveling marketing person is checking out the local specialty dishes wherever I go to.
Well, I am no Anthony Bourdain in an episode of No Reservations but I try to be — I emulate as far as the beer every meal will take me. So far, I’ve tried crickets, dog, frogs, and a cobra for dinner (a little Zimmern there). None of them give the same feeling of comfort as noodles.
Back to the noodles. I’ve written about Charlie’s Wanton, Tuguegarao‘s Batil Patong and probably about Pancit Cabagan from…well, Cabagan, Isabela. If I can remember the name of the noodle place near the Ambassador in Chinatown, where my friends and I ate late after imbibing a lot of alcohol, I’d write about that, too. Honestly, I used to tease an old co-worker about his love for noodles. I never thought I’d become a noodle freak myself.
In my last trip out of Metro Manila, I ended up in the city of Calapan in Oriental Mindoro for a week-long work activity. Since it was all work, I really did not have the time to check out what the area had to offer. Tamaraw Falls can wait for me in an another visit to the island. I am thankful for one of our professional staff members for bringing me to a good source of food kryptonite that made me want to eat some more until the last minute I had to leave Mindoro.
With a name that sounds like an old place that my uncles used to frequent to sow their wild oats, Mabuhay Panciteria in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro was certainly worth the stop for me.
It was worth the stop that I had to bring my entire team there for a “take it or leave it” Thursday dinner — lomi or pancit as the only food choices.
Believe me, the team was full ’til midnight, as starch swells up in tummy really good. It was worth the stop that I had to come back to eat Sunday lunch before I boarded the Ro-Ro boat going back to the Batangas port.
I remember Mario Batali mentioning in some of his shows, while cooking pasta, that the noodle is the dish. I don’t know exactly what he meant but THIS had to be it. The pancit canton in Mabuhay was just that — it wasn’t the GENEROUS amount of toppings or the sahog that got me. It was the taste of the noodle PLUS the toppings. The sauce was not overpowering and offered you room to play around with additional condiments. The taste and texture of the noodles, prepared in-store, got me going to eat more and more. I liken it to the experience of eating a lot if one has well-prepared steamed aromatic white rice, an appetite inducer for most. I also felt like that food critic in Ratatouille. You’ll end up eating a lot. If the place wasn’t so far, I’ll eat there every week.
Price-wise, the pancit canton there is relatively inexpensive at PhP 95.00. Throw-in a super cold bottle of Coca-Cola, 12-oz please, and you’re all set for a great meal. If you feel like it, you can also order rice to go along with the pancit. Pancit + rice, a true Pinoy belly-busting eating tradition.