A recent paint job has given the kitchenette a makeover. In its old unpainted version however, I remember getting a glimpse from the street of an old yellowing counter over which rows of dishes covered with plastic bowls were arranged. To the left of the counter was a kitchen, viewed on the outside through a small, screened, decrepit window that looked more like a dust and insect filter. A casual peek revealed a couple of men in various states of dress and undress, sweating over mysterious dishes that sent off divine-smelling smoke.
The rest that was and still is unseen is left to the imagination. My husband’s friend sums it all up by concluding that this is the place “where people are clueless.” Rumor has it that the kitchen has assistants that have more than two legs, are each less than an inch tall and are gray or brown in color. They say that these assistants hold the secret to the oh so yummy goodness of every dish served by the kitchenette. The loyal patrons of the kitchenette however don’t seem to care or to want to know the place’s culinary secrets. It’s enough that they get their fill of cheap delicious food.
I suppose this kitchenette isn’t the only one of its kind. Take for example the old chicken stand somewhere in
But therein lies the beauty of Philippine underground cuisine. It’s an adventure to remember, full of flavor, mystery and opportunities to eat all you can of creatures you normally wouldn’t even think of licking. If you are a foreigner, a balikbayan or a local aristocratic snob, then dimly lit street eateries should be your next stop as soon as you’ve hurdled the balut challenge. These are perfect venues to train for the next million dollar Fear Factor-ish reality show. (Incidentally, I always thought that, with the kind of food our humblest of citizens eat, we would have won any Fear Factor food challenge in a heartbeat).