Last summer, while vacationing in Cape Cod, Mass. for the July Fourth weekend, my aunt, two cousins, cousin-in-law, sister, sister’s friend and I, had a very serious discussion. The topic? “If you had to give up eating an entire category of animals and all of its byproducts, which would it be?” The choices were poultry, swine, cattle and seafood. (Although, if we weren’t just talking about animals, then rice certainly would have been in its own category.) All the vegans reading this are likely laughing at our ridiculousness right now, but what made this decision really difficult for us — besides the fact that my sister couldn’t picture life without real ice cream or cake — is that we are all Filipino. All the most delicious, and possibly most unhealthy, Filipino dishes involve animal meat and their byproducts.
Filipinos love to eat, and no celebration is complete without a hearty meal. In fact, if feasible, every celebration wouldn include a group huddling around and picking the skin off of the lechon, a full-sized roasted pig. And if you’ve ever been to the Philippine Independence Day Parade in New York City... let’s just say that people don’t flock there for the entertainment. The main event is always lining up to get lunch... and dinner... for the next week.
I’m not going to try to convince you how tasty chicharon (skin cracklings), isaw (grilled chicken and pork innards) and sisig (roasted pig’s head and liver diced and marinated in with calamansi and chili peppers) are. Sometimes, I even wonder why we eat some of the more bizarre things — how much meat can you really get out of chicken’s feet? However, there is something that I can probably get you to agree with.Whether it be sharing a meal with your family at Thanksgiving or enjoying funnel cakes and fried dough with friends at a carnival, food has a sentimental value. And that’s really what it’s all about.
A majority of the articles in this week’s special Food Issue incorporate a social aspect to food, and that’s something we shouldn’t forget. The main point of eating may be fueling your body, but sitting down to share a meal with some good company can do wonders for your well-being on the whole. So next time you feel like grabbing a quick bite to eat, drag one of your friends with you. After all, once you graduate, it may be a while before you have that opportunity again.
Editor In Chief