Here is a photo taken by my friend, Aida — an image that illustrates urban life in the side streets around the Philippines: the heat (newspapers read 38C/100F but feels like 41C/105F the other day), the pedestrian chaos, the sounds of clogged traffic and the smell of local street food.
In the city, coal-pit barbeque stands are found in the open, often in a makeshift stall along sidewalks near marketplaces and even in common side streets around residential areas.
What exactly are they cooking? Well, this could be an interesting topic altogether. Have any of you watched the TV show about bizarre foods by Andrew Zimmern? This is pretty much similar to the stalls he visited in off-beat areas of the city. Yes, local barbeque stalls have your usual pork and chicken skewers, and I think the fish on the right is roasted galunggong (?), a kind of local mackerel that is said to be inexpensive. I find this weird because the last time I checked, galunggong was not cheap at all!
However, one must not mistake those skewers on the left as ordinary fare It is not for the faint of heart, even amongst locals.
Back home, this is known as isaw. Personally, I’ve tried this once but only for one measly bite just to appease people who were relentlessly cajoling me to try it Also, I tried it just to say for the record that I have indeed tasted it!
Verdict? I think there are lots of ingredients out there and isaw shall nowhere be part of my menu at any point in time.
Should you be a passerby of one of these stalls, the smell of the marinade is deceivingly very appetizing. It is something people serve to be adventurous, a torturous treat for foreigners (my expat colleagues consider this their point-of-no-return dish!) and typically falls under the category of beer food, along with other heart-stopping things to challenge your arteries.
And what exactly is isaw?
Well, it’s marinaded chicken (or pork) intestines.
“Hi Cherie! Most of the isaw sold on sidewalks are chicken intestines. For me, the secret is in the barbecue sauce they use for grilling which really draws people in. Pork intestines are best when deep fried as ‘chicharon bituka’ “ — Aida
Thanks for sharing food with us, Aida!!!