Cornucopia

Table Conversation: Snack Attack, Pinoy Style

By Mariko on 7 July, 2008

Table Conversation: Pinoy Snacks
A Serious Case of the Munchies: Snacks, Pinoy Style

Nope, that is not my shopping basket on an ordinary day. (If my friends tell you otherwise, don’t believe them. I’d throw in some yogurt for a healthy kick. Ha!) This was, in fact, my little assignment: Eat bags and bags of some of the uniquely Pinoy snacks found in the neighborhood supermarket.

See my notes below. If only school assignments had been this fun. Now excuse me while I convulse from the sheer amount of sodium I’ve ingested…

Boy Bawang (Garlic Flavor)

I am in awe of Boy Bawang because it took a generic snack item that has been around for ages, gave it a brand, and turned it into a household name. (See also, Gardenia Bread.) Boy Bawang is close to becoming the cornick equivalent of Colgate, Frigidaire, and Xerox. I often hear people say, “Uy, Boy Bawang!” but I hardly encounter such excitement over unnamed cornicks in a plain plastic bag.

What I love about Boy Bawang is that it stays true to its name–you get an incredible garlick-y kick with every nutty handful. Forget wooden stakes and holy water–when it comes to vampire repellents, Boy Bawang is the ish, yo. (See also, First Date Food to Avoid.)

Granny Goose Brew Bud (Pork Sisig)
The most hilarious thing about this snack: The bag proudly proclaims that it is a “flavored wheat-based snack.” I see it’s trying to appeal to the more health-conscious snackers out there, because much like Seiko Films, if it’s wheat, then it must be good!

I half-expected to see dried sisig bits as I opened the bag, and was slightly disappointed to find something kropek-like. The flavor? There’s a porky taste, for sure, but whether it’s anything like sisig is debatable. I say nope. Still, it’s flavorful enough to tame an attack of the munchies.

V-Cut (Caldereta Flavor)
V-Cut is perhaps my all-time favorite Pinoy junk food of choice. I love that it is just bursting with sodium, with a delightful spicy kick towards the end of each bite. Plus, it’s ribbed for your pleasure! The better to scoop those heavy sour cream and onion dips with. Mmmm dip…

Focus, Mariko, focus.

So anyway, V-Cut now has a line called Pinoy Favorites, and I had me the caldereta-flavored one. With each bite, you initially do get a taste of caldereta, then that trademark spiciness sets in. I am not big on the caldereta but I can recognize that dem chips truly capture the flavor. I think these would be awesome crushed and scattered over some real caldereta–the crunchiness would make the classic dish a tad more interesting, don’t you think?

Monterey Chicharon
I’m convinced that everyone hits a certain age when he or she would prefer chicharon with laman.

When I was younger, I couldn’t understand how my parents could feast on Lapid’s chicharon with laman. Each fatty, oil-infused bit just screamed, “Clogged arteries!” But about two years ago, I started preferring these babies over plain old, cholesterol-lightweight, balat chicharon. Maybe this is why I didn’t totally enjoy the Monterey version. I mean, I really liked that it was super salty, plus it could stand on its own without vinegar. (I still had it with some of that wonderful orange-colored vinegar from Lapid’s though.) But it was a little flakier and airier than I would have wanted. My mom’s verdict: “It doesn’t taste…fresh.” To which I replied, “Fresh? Fresh chicharon?” Go figure.

For any inuman, though, this would make terrific pulutan. Especially since you could buy it at nearby supermarkets.

P.S. I am obviously a Lapid’s fan. But that didn’t stop me from finishing the whole Monterey bag. Man, this job’s tough.

Table Conversation: Pinoy Snacks
Pinoy Snacks: Out of the Bag


Choc-Nut

Over the years, I have experienced Choc-Nut in its various incarnations: as an ice cream flavor, cake topper, smoothie, and–most recently–body scrub! And then there is Choc-Nut in its purest form, a sweet treat that B’s typically male taste buds (read: not heavily into sugar) really enjoy.

Hardcore chocolate connoisseurs would probably wrinkle their nose at this confection–how dare this lowly, chalky, crumbly little bar proclaim that it is chocolate? But with just one bite, anyone would elevate this humble Pinoy favorite alongside the finest that Belgium has to offer. With Choc-Nut, you can’t tell where the chocolate ends and the peanut begins; it’s just a seamless blend of flavors. And it’s not about the quality of the ingredients or the amount of time spent preparing it–indeed, it’s incredibly cheap and unapologetically mass-produced. What makes it so special is that it’s so distinctly Pinoy, a product we could proudly share with the rest of the world, a little something that gives us a taste of home.

This “taste” could be had in a myriad of ways though–there are as many methods of eating Choc-Nut as there are Choc-Nut-based creations. Some prefer to pop a whole piece into their mouths, to keep it from crumbling in its foil wrapper. Others bite into it then allow it to melt on their tongues–letting the dry, polvoron-like Filipino bon-bon take on a thick, smooth, peanut-butter-like consistency. And then there are the crumbs: You could use your finger to gather up those precious bits, or tilt your head back and slide the remaining morsels from foil to mouth.

The best thing about Choc-Nut? It’s enjoyed by everybody–the young, the old, the haves, and the have-nots. It’s the great equalizer–appreciated at both ends of the spectrum. Kinda like the choco version of Manny Pacquiao. Manny! Manny! Manny! Er, Choc-Nut! Choc-Nut! Choc-Nut!

Zesto Calamansi Fruitsoda
I generally steer clear of carbonated drinks, not for health reasons (duh, I’m the girl who polished off a bag of Monterey Chicharon in five minutes), but merely because I don’t like them. I don’t know if there is some sort of aberration in my palate, but that’s just the way it is. I’ve had to politely down glasses of soda at parties and at friends’ houses (I know they mean well, so I drink up), and endure weird looks from waiters in Geneva when I would ask for water “sans gas.” So you could imagine that this Fruitsoda bit wasn’t high up on my list of Pinoy Supermarket Finds to Try. But try it I must.

Once the bubbles have died down and the fizz has made its way (painfully) down my throat, I do note that it really does taste like calamansi juice: It’s not like those overly sweet concentrates, or a poseur drink that doesn’t even taste remotely like what it’s supposed to taste like (hello, grape-flavored anything). It would’ve been enjoyable, had it not been for that aforementioned pesky aversion to All Things Carbonated.

Rarin’ to try it? Make sure you have it on the rocks. Then raise your glass, and toast to all these sometimes weird, often wonderful, uniquely Pinoy flavors–and to Pinoy pride!

Thanks to Erik Lacson for the photos!

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  • JULY 7, 2008 7:00 PM

    ctl said...

    Great post! Thinking about all that pinoy junk food while sitting here in Canada made me smile. And yes, I do love me some V-Cut :-)

  • JULY 7, 2008 9:35 PM

    Marvin said...

    Awesome write-up! I had choc-nut for the first time on my recent trip to the Philippines, and yes, I was expecting it to be, well, more chocolate-y. I did enjoy it though. And other than Zesto, I haven't seen any of these other treats here in the US, but I'll look harder now.

  • JULY 8, 2008 3:15 AM

    Mariko said...

    Hi ctl! Thank you! And I hope, for your sake, that V-Cut is sold at your neighborhood Filipino store. If not, then visiting Pinoys now know what to bring you!:)

    Marvin, thanks! Do try the original V-Cut if you get the chance. It's a shame you weren't able to try my favorite Pinoy chocolate: Serg's. It's been phased out.:(

  • JULY 10, 2008 4:23 AM

    Sakai said...

    V cut lover here,
    was also disappointed with the brew bud as u can see in one of my post...

  • JULY 10, 2008 8:20 AM

    ragamuffin girl said...

    This was a thoroughly enjoyable post! Little boy is a fan of Boy Bawang, hubby a fan of all things salty and crispy and detrimental to one's health. Personally I like chocnut haha (I can imagine food snobs of the world shuddering in horror at the audacity of even using half the word "chocolate" for this snack) and have used it in a fusion tiramisu.

  • JULY 10, 2008 1:02 PM

    Mariko said...

    Sakai, ah well, then I guess we've got more reasons to stock up on V-Cut!

    Ragamuffin girl, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing it! "All things salty and crispy and detrimental to one's health"--ahh, this is the best of what the food world has to offer! Haha. And Choc-Nut in tiramisu? That is an inspired idea! Send us a slice!:)

  • SEPTEMBER 12, 2008 2:51 PM

    Vlado&Toni said...

    hi there, i was googling for a tiramisu recipe ala pinoy and i landed here.. yummy.. that post made my mouth watery.. i gotta have those bag of goodies..!!!!!unfortunately , the closest you can get to a pinoy snack where i live is nagaraya, chippy and sky flakes :( the asian shops here are not so adventurous :(
    interesting blog you've got, will come back for more

  • NOVEMBER 3, 2008 4:55 PM

    Mariko said...

    This reply is so delayed, but hey, better late than never, right? Thanks for visiting and we do hope you'd drop in often!

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