Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To Pungko or Not to Pungko

What's the word? Famished.

Yes, it's that human condition where one could say "I could eat a cow!" In my case, if I could grab one, I'd kill it in one sweeping decapitation, quarter the carcass with my bear hands, and smear my face with blood and gore at every bite on bovine flesh.  I was in this barbaric state when, thankfully, Cebu City's idiosyncrasy came to the rescue. Not my rescue, mind you, but every living creature's within two feet radius.

This happened a month ago and I was with a friend when I was figuring out where and which of Cebu's food venues I was to stage my metaphysical resolve to give in to my animal cravings.  My friend suggested we head to Ayala Center as we were just around the corner. I violently refused as I was all-out vandal with my unabashed table manners. The friend, noticeably worried that I was about to gobble him up, was quick to suggest a wonderland for my fantasies.

Thus, went the following conversation...

Me:  So saan? Saan ako magpapakawala ng naghihimagsik na gutom? (So, where? Where shall I let my raging hunger run amok?)

Him: Kumakain ka ba sa carinderia? (Do you eat at food stalls?)

Me: Oo naman. Minsan akong naging mahirap... hanggang ngayon. Pero carinderia? Daming carinderia. Gusto ko maiba. (Of course. I was once in penury... now in relative poverty only. But there's always a food stall anywhere. I want some place with a twist.)

Him: Mabuti. Meron akong alam kung saan ang mga pagkain lahat nasa lamesa. Kainin mo lahat ng gusto mo. Sobrang mura. (Great! There's this place where everything once alive is laid out on the table. Just pick anything. Cheap thrills.)

Me:  Pwede ang bastusang kain? Pwede ako magkalat? Pwede ko bang ipakita ang natatago kong talento sa pagnguya at pagsalita nang sabay? Pwede ako manigarilyo? (Can I eat obscenely? Can I drop my trash anywhere? Can I show off my talent in chewing and chanting the Bhagavad Gita all at the same time? Can I smoke?)

Him:  Lahat! Mas maganda pa nga bayaran mo lang kinain mo pag puno na tiyan mo. Sabihin mo lang sa tindera. (All of the above checked! Better yet, you only pay for the ones you ate until your stomach is about to burst. Just tell the caterer. Smoking is the last of your unhealthy concerns.)

Me: Ha? Pano nya malaman kung ilan nga kinain ko? (Really? How would she determine I'm giving the correct number of items I ate?)

Him: Honesty system. (Your guess is as good as hers.)

Me:  Anong pangalan ng lugar? Sabik na ko. (Identify the prey. I am out for the kill.)

Him: Pungko-pungko. (No English equivalence. Sit-sit?)

SFX: Crescendo from Handel's The Messiah rendered by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus in an impossible concert with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

According to Friend, there's a proliferation of such places across Cebu. We headed to the one beside JY Square in Lahug. There nestled in one corner is a dirt-floor eatery with tents and tables laden with everything delectable. Water containers, cooking arrays, and tools of the trade strewn everywhere.  They serve as fascinating pieces of decors. This place is not for the faint-hearted (read faint-stomached). In segue, a place for adventure but reservations on fear of gastric infection as precaution, otherwise, Diatabs and Lomotil may not be enough to fix a raging vowel.  But for a cheap thrill, this is what I was talking about!

There's puso (quintessential Cebu rice in coconut fronds) for three pesos, bulad (dried fish) for eight pesos, and ngohiong (Chinese style lumpia)/chorizo/fried egg for five pesos each. Now, the piece de resistance of this meal of an adventure is ginubot (chicharon bulaklak, crispy intestine) for ten pesos.

Pardon me hyperventilating, but ten pesos?! Ten pesos!  Correct me if I'm wrong but a serving of chicharon bulaklak in Manila can be had at an average price of Php200.00++!

This was a months ago and I did not have my ever-reliable documenter, Casio Exilim I lovingly call D'Bull's Eye because I'm the Bully, right?  So last Sunday I went back with two other friends, Brylle and Aika, who were equally excited to grab a feast of everything fried, therefore high-fat, and low-cost. (supply Carl Orff's Carmina Burana here)

So here are some visual documentations. This entry makes me hungry. Famished.  Not to mention that I am in the throws of dementia trying to configure the algebra involved in a ten-pesos chicharon bulaklak.

Grab a tissue!

Pork chop or chicharon bulaklak? Choose the greater evil. It's worth it.

This ten-pesos chicharon bulaklak should be declared the 8th wonder of the world.

Look, Ma, everything's within reach! Especially the price!

Eating at pungko-pungko is the practical application of  Sun Tzu's The Art of War.

For all three of us, the bill came to an unbelievable Php174.00. Don't ask me. Your guess is as good as mine.

Choose your poison.

Another marvel of pungko-pungko is how it brings everyone into a harmonious community. There should be a lot of this all over the world to promote world peace.

By the way, I heard JY Square hides another food destination to goggle over. All-you-can-eat dimsum  for less than Php200.00.  But that would be another story.