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Take it to the streets

Pampanga street food is as cool and delicious as it sounds.

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By Gene Gonzalez

I was fortunate enough to be invited to do a demo at the Pampanga Food Festival, which was organized by my friend, Chef Don Edward who spearheaded an event that is one of the features of Tigtigan Terakan, the biggest yearly Music and Street Dance fest that has been ongoing for the past 25 years.

What started as a small festival, the brainchild of Angeles city Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, has turned into one of the biggest street parties in the country attended by thousands in a period of two days. The street party is a good representation of food on the move or casual street food, from green mangoes, fried calamari, quek quek, and grilled skewered meats, plus a stir fry station by Century Hotel.

Clockwise from top left: Bami tom yam thalay; Sizzling balut; Nasing marangle; Mix n Match steak; blue Whale's banana Oreo; Mix of shrimp and kani tempura with cheese stuffed fried long peppers

Clockwise from top left: Bami tom yam thalay; Sizzling balut; Nasing marangle; Mix n Match steak; blue Whale’s banana Oreo; Mix of shrimp and kani tempura with cheese stuffed fried long peppers

Realizing the potential of this huge celebration, Chef Don Edward for the first time set up an area to showcase choice Capampangan offerings from various areas of Angeles City. For a first time event participants showed an array of Pampango and international offerings like Japanese ramen to takoyaki and tempura booths. The fried mix of Tokyo Tempura was a revelation. The tempura coating of the prawns was beautifully light, translucent, and crisp. The stuffed green chilis were very mild and came with a second sweet chili dip aside from the soy-based tempura sauce. Still on the foreign side, I tried a local budget marinated steak from Meats n Match that is good value for its main crowd of students and office workers (I had to see what the younger set has).

The steak was tender and is a staple among students and office people in their four outlets. The Vietnamese outlet called Ba Ngoi was churning out banh mi, fresh and fried spring rolls, and pork noodle salad called bun thit xao. Their dressings and herb blends were quite authentic and was refreshing light food for the open air evening. I sampled an authentic tom yam bami thalay or thai tom yam noodle soup from Mama Shine, our hobby chef who joins event and fairs but churns out authentic Thai flavors and aptly named hi booth flavors of Siam. He also has green curry and tom yam-flavored peanuts in a pack.

While I was doing a demo, I was presented with some freshly aerated tablea chocolate in a batirol. The foamy chocolate prevents one from scalding his lips and at the same time creates tiny bubble explosions in ones palate releasing the chocolate and nut flavors in this Pampango style of hot chocolate. I later visited the Pampango food booths and was pleasantly surprised at Apag Marangle’s nasi marangle (their version of vegetable paella), humba and sizzling balut. I visited the student favorite Taples that featured their popular Taples beef tapa with egg and fried rice. One of my favorites was Tal Dawa Ortellano’s adobong bibe, which is a tender, fall-off- the-bone native duck made into adobo much like a confit. I also had their popular goat kaderetta that only had a mild gaminess to the meat which makes it culturally very Pampango in preference. For enders, I ended up in the Blue Whale booth where they were selling for only P50, three medium scoops of homemade ice cream or sherbet. Their banana Oreo has a chewy, fudgy consistency, and the flavor is unique. The buco lychee sorbet was very fine in terms of ice crystals both were winners and this little business is something to watch out for.

Going out of the food festival into the street dance and band area I luckily stumbled on Lolo Pops who I saw on TV and plies his handmade lollipops in different schools supporting his ailing wife. It’s truly amazing how this hard worker continues selling his handmade lollies so fast. I guess it’s the very pleasant and bright aura you feel when you are buying from this person.

If you enjoy these selection drop me a note at chefgene88@yahoo.com or follow my Instagram @chefgenegonzalez

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