Saturday, August 19, 2006

PANCIT SHOULD BE OUR NATIONAL DISH

If ever there is a most neutral dish category in the Filipino menu, I believe it should be the pancit. It is served in every occasion (birthdays, weddings, binyags, burials, fiestas, blowouts, what-you-have), it is very flexible (vegetarian or peppered with different meats, dried or soupy, boiled or fired/sautéed, hot or cold), goes well with almost anything, and familiar with almost every Filipino. It is the only dish I know that can transcend regional identities and represent the Filipino nation as a whole. For this matter, it should be the national dish.

Pancit was brought to the Philippines by Chinese traders. However, it did not fit into the fish-and-rice diet of the “natives” and was confined to the parian or Chinese settlements. When the Spanish came, they brought with them their frying pans, the science of food dressing (the guisa or mixing garlic, onion, tomatoes in hot oil), the art of the sancucha and recado, and various recipes that finally tore down age-old taboos on food. These elements developed existing menus one of which is the pancit guisado that soon became a regular table fixture. Soon enough, regional variations were created based on the available ingredients: pancit cabagan (from Isabela), la paz batchoy (from Iloilo), pancit malabon (ehem, from Malabon), the everyday mami and miki, sotanghon and pancit canton (the Chinese connection), misua, etcetera, and its newest evolution of pancit kanin (a favorite among tricycle drivers and those of meal budgets of P20.00 and below).




The Best Pancit in San Jose City

In our part of the world, the best pancit bihon (read: guisado) is served by Dacoco’s Panciteria located in Curamen Subdivision, Sibut, San Jose City. It is freshly cooked with the sauce (sabaw) dripping with every spoonful, garnished with the usual repolyo and carrots, blended with a mixed sahog of meatballs-quail eggs-pork bits, and spiked with a head of sliced calamansi. A plateful costs P30.00 and the busog/fullness is guaranteed to last until the next other meal. On nearby Del Pilar Street is arguably the best version of the lomi in Nueva Ecija at Donna’s Foodhaus and Restaurant. It was our favorite panciteria before Dacoco’s. We stopped going there when the owner started serving other things (beer and women) aside from the regular fare.

NOTE: Pancit photos taken by my Sony Ericsson K7001 mobile phone camera.

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