Let’s start with the 50’s Diner near Mines View Park, Baguio City.
Mike ordered stuffed squid, I had Corvette burger (porkloin steak), asparagus soup, and frozen margarita.
The burger buns looked nothing special. Tell that to a person, “you look nothing special,” she might get offended, hold grudges, be bitter about it, so I didn’t say it aloud. A chemical engineer once told me that food can take in your comments and react to them–you tell your water, “sarap,” the water will taste good; you tell the food it sucks, it will start tasting like socks.
I couldn’t use my right hand that time so Mike sliced the steak patty for me (while I ate his squid). The squidness of the squid tasted like beach barbecue parties in the seafood capital of the Philippines.
It must’ve been because Mike was so appreciative, he told the squid, “sarap!” and the squid felt proud how his life had become meaningful.
As for the steak sandwiched between the dry-looking buns, I just had to adjust its taste with help from tomato catsup.
The Diner itself is splashed with pink light and a feel of the simulated 50s.
A few steps away from the Diner is Concoctions Bar. Sadly, no band was playing that night so we left after a glass of Martini, beer, and a view of Baguio City from the top.
Cafe by the Ruins
At the first sip of Hundred Islands Sinigang, I felt I was tricked. Betrayed. That was not sinigang. It’s not sour. A sinigang that’s not sour is a joke.
Mike tasted it, looked at me, tasted it again, and looked puzzled. Earlier that day, I’ve been coaxing him to come to Cafe by the Ruins, that “cozy” resto that serves “delectable” and “delicious” food, says food blogs.
Kind Mr Mike said maybe it’s their version of sinigang (in the same manner that I can scoop some soil and say it’s my version of sugar). The fish was fishy. This means, I could taste their struggle as they die, their flesh and blood in my mouth. The squid was white, like a corpse. I thought, maybe it’s their version of squid. It tasted like Nothing. The texture was excellent by a normal eater standards, but I imagined myself eating a concept, an abstraction, an idea. I was eating an Idea of Squid.
I thought about all those bloggers who paid for this 300-peso plate of Sinigang and all those bloggers and foodies who had an acquired taste, and how they posed with an OK thumb sign before/while eating their food. I thought about the artists who ate here; artists who completed their being an artist by eating at places frequented by artists. I thought about Instagram pictures of food on Facebook, deceit, images, ideas. I swallowed the Idea of Squid.
Cafe by the Ruins is a beautiful cafe built from ruins, which one can still see.
(I will let this pass, though, and try other dishes next time)
After a few hours of watching travel programs in our hotel room, I told Mike I’m hungry. He laughed, wrestled me, saying we just had dinner! and I told him, I was really hungry (he thought I was joking), and that I want a bowl of mami.
Past midnight, we were walking around the neighborhood of sleazy bars, loud restos, hotels, and inns, till we found my craving. Mommy’s restaurant serves mami noodles that can warm the tummy and the heart.
Mommy’s is beside Padi’s near Burnham. They’re open 24 hours like an Emergency Room for ruined appetites.
We had Pizza Volante on our last day. The 24hour pizza house is an unassuming restaurant along Session Road, the busiest of all the streets in Baguio. They serve liquor to heat the freezing body. I ordered their 10″ pesto pizza, and as a pesto lover, I decided, this one is perfection. Mike didn’t like it because it’s too green for him; I feasted on it, anyways. Imagine a jar of fresh pesto poured over a special crust from Italy (not that I’ve been to Italy).
Their choices of pizza and pasta and steaks consist a long list. Next time, I’ll try their lamb steak.
Mike ordered some tender pork (?) steak, gave me some, and we agreed that there’s still goodness left on Earth.
Such goodness we also found in that cafe in Tam-awan Village and Mile Hi Diner at Camp John Hay.
Mile Hi is the place to fall in love. Pine trees everywhere, old Christmas songs playing, cool air freezing the Time.
Anywhere we go, though, the food can taste better by exchanging silences and stories that can break the toughest of social and personal barriers.