Monday, February 16, 2009

Chinese Food, Pinoy version

I grew up with parents who actually came over from China/Hongkong and were not born here in the Philippines. Not to mention that we have grandparents who we seen often. My comfort food is mostly Chinese food, because that was what my mother and my grandmothers cooked for us while we were growing up.

Since I the school I studied in during elementary and high school is mostly populated by students of Chinese parents like me, we pretty much knew Chinese food the same way.

I wondered why siopao (steamed meat buns) had these small packets of sauce, especially in restaurants. Also lumpia (spring rolls). Because we don't have sauces like these at home. And why calamansi (Philippine lime) is served together with pancit (noodles).

I attended college in a well-known university, and this time the population was more reflective of the country's population -- meaning that pure Chinese were the minority. I hang around with a few friends. I was surprised when they actually used the sauce for the siopao that they ate during snack time. They were surprised when I didn't touch my sauce at all.

It gradually made sense to me...The Pinoy has this penchant for adjusting foreign food to their taste. Like sauce on siopao, sauce on lumpia, calamansi in noodles (calamansi is actually Filipino, so you see, Chinese who came from China won't know what it is at first), etc.

It's similar to spaghetti with hotdogs and the sauce on the sweet side (Pinoys would complain that Italian style spaghetti is too sour). Pinoys do alter food in order to suit their own palate.

What do I feel about this? Well, to each his own. I still love my siopao and lumpia without the sauces (I'll just pass the sauce to my husband) and my pancit without the calamansi. It really is a matter of personal preference, and mine was shaped by traditional Chinese cooks (mom and grandmas). But don't go looking for calamansi when you go order siomai in a dimsum restaurant in HongKong, or complain that they didn't serve you the sauce. Because they won't have any. :)