Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Chambersburg Philippine-American Association Picnic

Feast of the

Happened last Saturday noon at the Chambersburg Memorial Park Pavilion, Filipino families bringing covered dishes and casseroles.  Not having been back in the old country in...O thirteen years now and was a rare chance to taste a little of what I used to eat and still love.

From the photo above (counterclockwise, from top left): pancit Canton (Canton-style wheat noodles, not unlike lo mien); ginataang isda (fish sauteed in coconut milk); steamed rice; ginisang pechay (sauteed Chinese cabbage).

You see a bit of our cultural background: the pechay and pancit show our Chinese influence (we'd been trading with them since the 9th century); the fish (tilapia if I remember right) suggests our relationship with the sea, the rice our relationship with the land. 

The climax of the fest--of any Filipino feast for that matter--is the pig, where we show our Spanish roots. Sometimes lechon (roasted whole milkfed pig), here is a perhaps less visually spectacular but no less tasty variation: lechon kawali (panfried pork): pork belly chopped into large chunks and fried in a wok till crisp golden brown. Served with Mang Tomas' sarsa (a popular brand of sweet liver sauce often served with roast pig). 

Managed to snag most of that plus more, with the following results

Clockwise from upper left: lechon with Mang Tomas' sarsa; ginisang ampalaya (sauteed bitter melon, a tasty and incidentally powerfully medicinal vegetable); pork meatballs in a sweet chili sauce; embutido (a Spanish-Filipino style meat loaf made with raisins) with ketchup (of course); pancit Bihon (rice noodles) and more lechon (can you tell I'm a fan?).

And the desserts, where Spanish clash and fuse with Malay influences: 

From left to right: cassava cakes and kutsinta (a kind of rice pudding cake made from sugar, rice flour and lye (yes lye))

Clockwise from upper left: a Spanish-style leche flan (egg flan in caramel sauce; another cassava cake, this time topped with a bit of minatamis na bao (sweetened coconut jam); and puto (gaily colored rice cakes with cheese topping).

Could not stay for dessert--I mean the climactic dessert, fresh-made halo halo (literally, 'mixed sweets') a unique concoction found in Southeast Asia assembled from shaved ice, evaporated milk, sweetened beans, kaong (palm fruit jellybean), kamote (sweet potato), macapuno (sweetened young coconut), jackfruit, ube (a purple root) jam, leche flan--as Cecilia demonstrates below (photo from last year's picnic):

The result is icy sweet with a rainbow of colors and textures and flavors, from chewy kaong to crunchy ice to tangy jackfruit to rich and creamy flan

And that's all she said. Thanks to the inexhaustible Daisy, who thoughtfully invited us organized and everything the whole affair; without her I doubt if any of this was possible.

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