A Flavorful (And Rogue?) Presidential Meal


(Photo: Eugene Caccam)

(Editor’s note: Apo Digong referenced in this post is none other than incoming Philippine President Rod Duterte.  It appears that the Davao City Mayor is not only fond of colorful language but also flavorful meals, like this smoked pork hock recipe by our regular guest contributor, EUGENE CACCAM)


I didn’t go to market today because my driver’s license has expired. To atone for my sin of omission, I stayed in bed and read up on Apo Digong’s favorite food as described by my favorite chef-columnist Reggie Aspiras, a fellow Ilocano. This is so that if I don’t agree with him in ideology or process in the next six years, at least we will find a common ground in food.

He likes carabao tapa flakes, chicken gizzard, pakbet, pansit, rib soup with taro (I imagine this to be sinigang na baboy with gabi), balbacua, and monggo with pata. The last one created a craving deep within.

Reggie says the cooks emphasize he wants his food flavorful.

Flavorful pata for me means smoked pork hock or trotter. Not in the Western style of cured, but in the raw Ilokano way of insarabasab or pinulpugan, which calls for searing the skin to wickedly delicious blackness, the fat dripping into the coal to build more fire to blacken it even more — all the while sealing in the ambrosia of freshly slaughtered meat, of course. I think this is how he would want it, the street- and tough-talking persona that he is.

The man is a complex character, too, so “flavorful” must be aptly nuanced according to this nature of his. The adjective should project his being unconventional, irreverent, unpredictable, full of “shock and awe.” Maybe flaked tinapa (smoked fish) would be the perfect troll?

So to the sautéed monggo I (vacillated but nonetheless combined and) added these generators of flavor, afraid and uncertain of the result. I prayed they would complement, not quash, each other. I cooked the dish over slow fire, long enough for the pata to be pull-tender and the contrasting shades of “smoked” to be genially pleasant to each other, as an ideologically divergent Cabinet would be.

I made it! With ample ampalaya leaves and salacious siling labuyo as go betweens, this candidate to my repertoire of recipes turned out to be a rare prescription to pleasantly swear by. Those given to uttering cuss words to express delight in between rowdy slurps of fragrance, flavor and anghang are free to do so.

Now I think I will be able to understand him.

(And so will we, Eugene, so will we! Congratulations, Apo Digong, on your inauguration on June 30, 2016)


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