Gray Matter


Street Food in Olongapo, Philippines

RT Cunningham | August 3, 2020 (UTC) | Food and Drink

street foodDespite what you may hear from other foreigners, some street food in Olongapo is as good as what you would find at any American backyard barbecue. I’m being generous. There’s probably more food to avoid than not.

When I wrote about street vendors, I mentioned some food they sell. Not all of it, of course, and that’s what I’m getting to today. Still, there’s some I can’t tell you the names of because I don’t know.

Chickens and Chicken Parts

Filipinos won’t let any part of the chicken go to waste, except for the feathers. They use every other part in some type of dish.

We (me and my wife, Josie) buy barbecued chicken from various neighborhoods near us. I’ll eat chicken legs, thighs, wings and breasts. I won’t eat chicken feet, chicken heads, or chicken intestines (isaw). Chicken feet also have a slang term associated with them, adidas, named after the footwear brand.

Barbecue on a Stick

The Japanese version is smaller and only involves chicken. It’s called yakitori. The Filipino version is bigger because the sticks are bigger. The Filipino version can involve pork and other types of meat.

When I was in Olongapo in the eighties, street vendors would yell out “monkey meat”. It was never monkey meat. I don’t doubt monkey meat is indeed used in some areas of the Philippines. I seriously doubt it has ever been used in Olongapo.

Fish Balls and Squid Balls

When my younger son, Jon, was going to college, he loved fish balls and squid balls. I don’t know what they’re called in Tagalog, but they’re not really balls.

They’re round and flat and contain very little of anything. The outer “shell” is basically made of flour. There are other similar kinds of food that aren’t even round.

Street Food Is Inexpensive

That’s why it’s so popular in the Philippines. As an example, you can buy two pieces of barbecued chicken for about the same price as any fast-food restaurant. Sometimes less, depending on the parts of the chicken you buy. It’s always less expensive because you don’t have to travel by vehicle to get it.

Some street food can’t be found elsewhere in the world, like balut (the egg with legs). Compared to everyone else in my neighborhood, I eat very little street food. I usually have plenty of food stocked in the house. Josie and I both have to be lazy or starving to buy off the street.

Photo Attribution: woradas from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in May 2017.

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