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The Theoretical Cook


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Eating Pollo Rosco at Piadina Italiana Alone

Passion food - that's their (Piadina's) blurb, not mine. Piadina is the chapati of Romagna, its the Italian flatbread. Pita: Middle East, Piadina: Italy, Roti: Malaysia and environs. Piadina is what happens when you sit on a focaccia and then put the flattened output inside the oven. The nearest thing to a piadina that we have would be the Visayan piyaya - which is as flat as any bread can get - except that you stuff piadina with ham and cheese and piyaya - well, piyaya comes stuffed with molasses and sesame seeds, ube, and recently, durian jam.
This isn't really about piadina the flatbread but about my dining experience tonight at Piadina in Manila. Lately, I've been having trouble eating, not because I'm dieting, but really because I can't think of anything to eat (see previous post). Also, I don't have anyone to eat dinner with, and there's nothing as sad as having dinner alone. I don't feel the urge to cook because I have no one to cook for these days and cooking for one can be a waste. Part of the joy of cooking is watching other people enjoy the food you prepare. So I've been eating ALONE inside the mall lately: Mangan (adobo, grilled eggplant, buro!), TokyoTokyo (I hate TokyoTokyo I wonder why I return at all), Kaya (bulgogi again and again), and Max. Today I decided to go to Piadina. I didnt eat piadina though, the Filipino that I am, I ordered rice and chicken. I asked the waiter what their bestselling chicken dish was and he said "Pollo gorgonzola." I chose the other chicken dish. Breaded chicken with gorgonzola sauce, tsk. Cheese, as you know, isn't really a Filipino ingredient - at least, as far as peasant food is concerned. When I eat rice, I dont want cheese with it. My Filipino taste buds dictate that cheese is for flour-based stuff: pasta, bread, etc. You know how taste buds are, it takes forever to 'educate' them.
So I ended up eating an uninspired pollo rosso dish alone at Piadina. I felt sad eating alone. Lately, my schedule has gotten so tight, by the time my language classes or my teaching sessions end, everybody else is done eating dinner. At first I thought it was a good thing, eating alone means you eat like a little bird and you can stick to a healthier diet. The other night, I ate arugula salad at Cafe Caruso along Riposo St. The salad was just literally leaves and balsamic vinegar and parmesan shavings - plus piadina on the side. I felt hungry all night. In fact, I've been feeling hungry for so long. It's like I have a constant craving that nothing can satisfy. And the feeling reminded me of the strange comment of the hunger artist: he would've quit his fasting drama had he found the food he felt passionate about.
The pollo rosso, unfortunately, didn't arouse any passion in me. Any cuisine, when taken out of its cultural context, is only an approximation of the original. That's why mall food never tastes half as good as freshly caught fish grilled in the beach, or my grandmother's vegetable soup concocted from 'weeds' in her garden (saluyot, kulitis, malunggay). Traditionally, we ate our 'edible' landscapes. In this urban landscape, nothing seems edible.
Well, there's always streetfood.


Anonymous Mita said...

Sounds like you're rady for a trip to the probinsya to enjoy all the benefits of good, fresh dinengdeng and inihaw na hito...mmmm

1:44 AM  
Blogger Theoretical Cook said...

Hi Mita! Yup, yup. My lola is ilocana - hence, the saluyot.:)

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