da Best Barbecue Que he comido

27 Aug

by Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna

I hear my stomach gives  a faint grumble.  I try to ignore it. I focus my attention on the movie. Then I hear another grumble.  I turn to Kay, my film buddy who is seated next to me.  She turns to me and says, “Gutom na ako.”  (I’m starving) Oh.  Was it really my stomach that grumbled or hers?  But before I can ask her that, we both smile at each other  and connivingly  utter, “Barbecue tayo?” (Let’s have barbecue?) and release   sheepish giggles. We both know we were talking about the same barbecue of our favorite Pinoy resto somewhere in Raval. We stand up and leave the cinema fifteen minutes after the movie started.

Next scene, Kay and I are quietly demolishing a stick each  of gosh-this-so-good barbecue.   I  carefully slice the fat chunk of barbecue meat on my plate, gently put it into my mouth and shove a spoonful of rice. I chew it softly, savouring   the sweet taste of the meat and the complimentary blandness  of the rice being slowly cut into pieces by my teeth. Mmm. I think I just had a gastronomical orgasm.

Che Guevarra once said “Homesickness begins with food.”  Very true indeed.  While enjoying our sumptuous barbecue, Kay and I are transported back to the past.  She instantly remembers the Beach House carinderia in Sunken Garden in the middle of UP Diliman which served the best barbecue she had ever tasted in her entire life.  I, in turn, become nostalgic too and share my high school memories where during lunch, I would devour the best barbecue I had ever tasted in my entire career. I will never forget Strawberry Shortcake canteen in Bacolod as long as I live.

Nope, this is not  going to be a promotional gimmick of the restaurant that cooks the barbecue in question. I am not a food critic either.  This is just, let me say, something that I want to share purely for the love of this meat-on-a-stick dish.  The thing is, when I half-jokingly told the owner of the restaurant that I was writing a piece about his barbecue, he just gave me a grateful smile. Yes my dear friends, no offer of, say, a Lifetime Free BBQ discount coupon in return. No sir. Instead, what I got was …uhm…a smile.

Back to the BBQ.  It has become my current favorite food of all time. I crave for it everyday. I even dream about it.  That is why I really had to teasingly tell off   the owner of the restaurant last week because  it had been two Saturdays now that they ran out of rice.  We had to skip our much-awaited BBQ-fest because for me, eating BBQ the Pinoy way without rice is like eating Spaghetti without pasta. Anyway, I accepted his explanation that a lot of people would come and order rice on Saturday evening. Thus, the shortage. Right.

Beach House Canteen in UP Diliman Sunken Garden. Photo by DarleneCMF

Some said that the word barbecue came from the word barabicu, a word which  in the language of both Timucua of Florida and the Taino people of the Caribbean means “sacred fire pit.” It connotes a grill for cooking meat, which normally consists of a wooden platform resting on sticks.  But there are others who claim that barbecue is derived from the French phrase barbe à queque which literally meant   “from beard to tail”.  They say that it was the French visitors to the Caribbean who described the method of a pig being cooked whole  as such, from beard to tail.  In the US, the word barbecue is also used to refer to a social gathering where food is served outdoors in the early afternoon and some grilling.

When the Americans came to the Philippines, they introduced barbecue to the Filipinos. Taking advantage of the always sunny weather in the Philippines, barbecues became an instant hit. The Filipinos added a twist to the dish though. Pinoy  barbecue is normally marinated in a slightly sweet sauce.  Do you know how a Pinoy barbecue is different from the rest?  Aside from the taste, it’s the look.  A typical Pinoy barbecue has  strips of lean meat  skewered into a thin barbecue stick and a strip of fat is added at the end of the stick. Unconsciously, the  fatty meat   is  normally the last to be eaten; serving  as the beguiler  of the aftertaste.  To us Pinoys, when we say barbecue, it’s always pork barbecue. But of course, we also have chicken barbecue and sometimes fish barbecue and more. In fiestas and celebrations, barbecues are common fixtures in the table.  Barbecues are extra popular among guests because it allows one to move around and socialize while eating.  Also in fiestas, people have the habit of forcing people to eat in their house.  Refusing to do so  and  declining the offer would be an insult to the host even if your stomach has no more space to fill. Thus, barbecues save the day.  Grabbing one stick  of  barbecue is already enough to show courtesy  to the host, assuring compliance and demonstrating appreciation for the invitation and of course, the food.

Initially, I wondered whether it was only me obsessing over this meat on the stick thing from this Pinoy restaurant.  But when I brought my German, American, Spanish and Venezuelan friends to try the  BBQ, they were unanimous in saying that they loved it! See, it was not just me.  And mind, they no longer showed their surprised faces whenever they saw me  with a plateful of rice to go with my BBQ. How plateful you might ask? Well, just imagine how much rice those construction workers in the Philippines usually eat at lunch, then you will know what I am talking about. Besides, I am really a rice person.

Barbecue sold on the streets of Manila

So how yummy this  particular BBQ really is? Very yummy.  I can attribute this  to how the cook marinates the meat.  The smooth thick  taste of the sauce that melts in my mouth. And mind, it doesn’t feel greasy once it touches the tongue. It instantly flirts with my taste buds. Add the softness of the meat and bam!  Everything tastes heavenly. No matter how I try to avoid eating cholesterol-rich food, this BBQ is an exception. I eat everything on the stick.  Sometimes, when nobody’s looking, I discreetly lick the stick for some residues left uneaten.  Eww you think and  Eww you say, but when it comes your turn one day, I bet you will do the same thing too.

So between you and me, and before I munch my last piece of meat, I am going to tell you  something: I officially declare that this barbecue is indeed the best barbecue in Barcelona and probably in the entire European Union. But, this is going to be our little Big Secret until the owner of the restaurant gives me that Lifetime Free BBQ discount coupon I asked him for. That would also be the time for me to divulge where in Barcelona  you can try this mouth-watering BBQ.

Now, if only the owner could  read this.

16 Responses to “da Best Barbecue Que he comido”

  1. Mouse August 29, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    Wonderful read. You made me hungry for bbq. The best Pinoy bbq here in the San Francisco Bay Area can be found at Fil-Am Cuisine in Daly City. The owners are Capampangan. You can smell the bbq all day long out in the street and it attracts many customers, mostly non-Pinoys as a matter of fact!

    I am quite a foodie myself. In fact I write about food on Adobo Nation, a weekly tele-magazine show on TFC (The Filipino Channel). I wonder if Pinoys are able to watch it there in Barcelona? Well, I might find out soon enough. I am visiting Barcelona for four days in October. I’m glad to know there’s a bunch of Pinoys doing great work over there. Maybe I can stop by the Centro Filipino one afternoon just to say hello. Or if somebody among you has a mini-dv camera, I would love to do a story about CP and show it on Adobo Nation! Any volunteers?

  2. Daniel August 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    Hola Mouse,

    Thanks for the comment. Some of us are also volunteers of Centro Filipino. Let us know when are you coming and let’s meet at Centro Filipino. It’s open from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. only, from Tuesdays to Saturdays. I’ll send your comment to the writer of this article. Hopefully one day, we can try the best Pinoy bbq in San Francisco.


    • Mouse August 30, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

      Marvilloso! Gracias, Daniel. Sana’y matuloy nga ang aking trip nang makilala ko kayo. I will definitely let you know the day of my arrival kung sakali. I see that some of you are co-alumni of mine from UP Diliman as well. Any Capampangans in CP?

      • Daniel August 30, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

        De nada, Mouse 🙂 What do you mean by CP?

  3. Mouse September 1, 2010 at 5:57 am #

    Lo siento…i meant to say CF (Centro Filipino)…for some reason, I keep thinking it’s Centro Pilipino. 🙂

  4. Daniel September 1, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    No pasa nada. I also thought of that 🙂

  5. julai September 3, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    I good one Natz. Saan banda ang eatery nato Natz?gusto ko rin kumain don and let’s convince the owner to give you a lifetime discount on their bbq.heheheh

  6. nats September 3, 2010 at 9:15 pm #

    hola mouse, thank you very much for the nice words…sure, just let us know once you are in barcelona…it would be our pleasure to show you around…:) see you soon!

    • Mouse September 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

      Thanks, Nats! It’s great to know there’s a thriving Pinoy community in Barcelona. Now I’m not so worried anymore about traveling alone. Btw, can you recommend a good hostel for me to stay in? Preferably one where a fellow Pinoy works or kilala ng ating mga Kapwa Pinoy diyan? Salamat! 🙂

  7. nats September 3, 2010 at 9:16 pm #

    hey juls,
    sige sabihin ko sa iyo ..mag lunch tayo doon one time…:) besos

  8. nats September 4, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    Hi Mouse, thanks a lot for dropping by. Im glad you liked it. Just let us know when you are here in Barcelona…it will be our pleasure to show you around… good luck! cheers!

    • Mouse September 16, 2010 at 8:28 am #

      Thanks, Nats! It’s great to know there’s a thriving Pinoy community in Barcelona. Now I’m not so worried anymore about traveling alone. Btw, can you recommend a good hostel for me to stay in? Preferably one where a fellow Pinoy works or kilala ng ating mga Kapwa Pinoy diyan? Salamat! 🙂

      • nats September 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

        hi mouse, when are you coming here? you can email me at tuscan_villaluna@yahoo.com for the details of your trip..we would be glad to show you around barcelona. cheers!

  9. nats September 4, 2010 at 11:55 am #

    hi juls, thanks thanks …sige kain tayo doon one of these days…:)

  10. kite1116u2 September 7, 2010 at 1:25 am #

    i am very interested to try this bbq in barcelona :))
    nats and daniel, would appreciate if you guys have more tips when travelling in barcelona. i know this site is not for travelling but its nice to know the “real deal” from fellow kababayans :)))

    hope to see you both in barcelona in october 2010!

  11. Daniel September 8, 2010 at 3:52 pm #

    Thanks for the comment and for the suggestion, Kite. See you next month 🙂

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