Monday, May 9, 2011
Food Memories from my Childhood -- Everybody's Cafe, San Fernando Pampanga
I was born and grew up in Malabon, Rizal but my folks were from Orani, Bataan.
My father's family stayed in Orani, while he migrated to the big city. But as they say, you can take the man out of Orani...
So every time there was an occasion, my father would head "home" -- for Holy Week, for summer vacations, for the town fiesta in October, for Christmas breaks.
Summer meant a trip or two to Orani. Since this was way before the North Luzon Express Tollway, the route was through the MacArthur Hiway - a long stretch that took you through towns of Bulacan and Pampanga before you eventually reached Bataan.
A car journey in those days meant a lot of stops for food and drink -- puto from Pulo in Bulacan, chicharon from Bocaue (and later on, more chicharon from Guagua, Pampanga), pancit from Marilao and so on and so forth.
But the stop I most looked forward to was Everybody's Cafe in San Fernando, Pampanga.
Once we crossed the boundary sign that said Pampanga, I would start to fidget, I would crane my neck to look over from the back seat, waiting for the bend in the road and the large tree and the house with the sign that said "Everybody's Cafe".
It meant a real stop, with a real meal (not just chichiria) but good hot food and rice.
Today, Everybody's Cafe is still at the same location where it has been for more than fifty years.
Since the opening of the North Luzon tollway, it is no longer along the regular route but foodies and Pampangos all know that a detour through the old highway will still lead to the reliable bastion of home cooked Pampango cuisine.
Just a few months ago, I invited my Bataan cousins for a trip down memory lane. We all met up at Everybody's Cafe, they drove from Orani and we motored from Manila.
It was a food trip that beat all food trips.
We spent our time ooh-ing and aaah-ing at the "escaparate" of ulam that displayed all the things we remembered. There was Pampango dinuguan, kare kare, dalag cooked in luyang dilaw, burong baboy ... what to order? What to eat?
We finally settled on our old favorites -- the sinfully rich and decadent "morcon" (actually, an embotido topped with drippings and gravy), tapang usa, inihaw na hito with buro and young, tender mustasa leaves, nilagang biyas ng baka, dalag cooked with luyang dilaw.
How about some of that crispy lechon kawali? Let's have that too!
And what would a Pampango meal be without the camaru -- field crickets cooked dry adobo style.
Not to mention deep fried, crispy frog legs.
We ordered and ate them all!
Excuse me while I burp...