When God showered blessings of a tongue with taste buds friends with spicy foods, I was so in front of the line. And I call it a blessing, a bountiful one, that I am given this special ability of withstanding a dish’s spice at a certain level of threshold. It’s blessing because other cannot do that. My mom surrenders to a spice level I consider so low.
Here in the Philippines where spicy delicacies are only concentrated on specific regions and provinces, the taste is never a sidekick but a pet peeve. When eating sinigang laden with a single chili, my mom and my siblings would stop me if I try to slice the chili and let its seeds (which contain the spices) mix with the soup. I had to use a separate bowl to enjoy my craving.
In the university, whether it’s everyday, I never get tired of ordering a pack of pancit canton flavored “hot,” and not just hot but “extra hot.” The brand’s Chili-mansi flavor has a weak spice for me.
Until I visited Singapore (for the second time), the haven for spicy foods with Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand. I attended a conference called Model Asia-Europe Meeting summit with food and accommodation provided free for us.
I always loved Europe and South America for their cultures more than Asia. If I were to travel around the world, I would visit London, UK or Sao Paolo, Brazil first than Asian countries. But after I visited Singapore, there was a sudden shift and change of heart. I am starting to love Asia because of the richness of its flavor – that if I go to an Asian country, the first thing I’ll look for is its specialty dish.
In Singapore, we ate this fried chicken breaded with spices, chicken rice with a chili pepper paste, a sting ray topped with chili sauce, and a hot and spicy ground beef. The country also serves a spicy chicken burger and fries dipped in a mixture of chili sauce and ketchup. I loved them! I think I’ve found my home in Singapore in terms of its food.
When I came back to the Philippines, I felt homesickness for that wild craving and thirst for authentic – and spicy – Singaporean dishes, that I began looking for restaurants that serve those kinds of Asian food.
But it came to me, why don’t the Philippines have a love for spice – despite the fact that we were discovered by the Spaniards mainly because of spices? The reason perhaps is that, our dishes are more Spanish than Asian. Menudo, mechado, adobo, tinola, etc.
Today, I was able to satisfy my thirst after my encounter with bibimbap, a Korean signature dish with beef and mixed vegetables (usually carrot and cabbage strips). I asked for an extra chili pepper sauce from the crew.
And I must say, it’s like eating in hell. But I loved it. You get to enjoy the food at the same time become happy as you dread with it. I was on fire eating it, drinking water every now and then, and the moment it is done, everything turns back to normal and becomes calm once more.
This is my first food adventure – equivalent to extreme sports and jawbreaking recreations. And I can’t wait to have more.