As I become a more experienced traveler, I’ve come to believe that one of the best ways to experience a culture is through the foods they eat. My cousins share this same philosophy and tried to subject me to a series of “Fear Factor” like challenges while I was there. These foods may be strange to me, but to my Hinunangnon cousins, these foods are common, and even a special treat to eat.
When we ordered the lechon, I learned that no part of the pig goes wasted, including the brain. I seriously thought they were kidding, but my cousin used a knife to crack open the top part of the pig’s skull, and then scooped a little piece of the brain and ate it – sort of like how one would take a little scoop to sample a flavor of ice cream from the local ice cream shop in the states.
The brain area was white and tapioca-ish looking, and the texture was creamy and it didn’t have a real taste but it tasted fatty or a little oily. It didn’t make me gag or anything, but I wasn’t asking for a second taste.
Just kidding, I didn’t eat no monkey. But I saw a monkey while I was eating that pig brain and wanted to put his picture on our site. The monkey was chained to the fence, probably because he was being punished for being a menace to society.
Yellow Stuff from the Fish
I don’t know what this stuff is. I think they are possibly the eggs of the fish? I don’t know, but we ate a huge fish that tasted like Pompano, and my uncle pulled out this yellow stuff. Not sure from where, but he just showed it to me and asked if I wanted to try it. I just couldn’t mainly because I had no idea what it was.
Pig Heart and Liver
As I said earlier, no part of the pig goes wasted. So I was challenged to eat the pig’s heart and the liver. Liver isn’t really a strange thing – that’s a common thing to eat in the States. And you know the taste when you are eating liver.
But pig heart, that was different. Not so much the taste – I don’t really recall there being any distinct flavor, but the texture was really tough. I just gnarled on it a few times and swallowed and I was done. I wouldn’t go out of my way to try it, but if it was slipped into my food I probably wouldn’t notice (unlike liver – I’ll know if someone tries to slip liver into my meal – so don’t even think about it!)
Since this trip, I went to a restaurant in San Francisco and ordered the whole fish and ate the fish eye. But the whole fish was 8 inches long, so the fish eye was tiny. You couldn’t really taste anything. The eyeball below was as big as the eye of perhaps a small child. And I could not bring myself to bite into it. It didn’t smell or anything like that, it was just huge! I might add I don’t recall anyone else eating this big-ass fish eyes either.
While not incredibly strange, the durian fruit is the one with really sharp spikes surrounding the skin and when you open it, there is supposed to be a really pungent odor that stinks up the house. The “meat” inside looks like a glob of gooey ice cream. The consistency reminds me of something that is going bad – like it is trying to hold its form but because the food is going bad, it can’t? It didn’t smell terrible – actually I don’t remember the fruit really smelling at all, but I do know that when I took a bite of it, I didn’t like the taste. Not because it tasted bad – it was more on the sweet side if I’m recalling correctly – but I just didn’t like the combination of the texture and the consistency to not want to try another bite.