In Baguio City, it is a must to visit the eateries at Slaughterhouse at Lower Magsaysay Avenue at least once a year for the unpretentious familiar flavors of table fare in these parts of the country.
The simplicity of the sauteed, grilled, or boiled foods with garlic, onions, and ginger spices are as they describe, comfort foods, no matter the risks of arthritis or gout.
Bulalo is an all-time favorite in this place because there is a guarantee the meat is tender as well as all the tendons and cartilages that attach them to the bones and joints. The soup is as rich and flavorful because of the length of time that the beef bones have been simmered.
For now, the smokey flavor from former wood fueled stoves are gone and the clean gas fueled stoves have removed this bonus. Every Filipino has a taste for this simple food spiced with green onions when served. In the Visayas, this is boiled with lots of ginger for a spicy and scented soup.
Of course, pinapaitan, another favorite bitter flavored soup made from cow or goat innards, is also best served at Slaughterhouse. Another food that is patiently boiled to tenderize the tripe most of all, small intestines, the lungs, kidney, and a little liver, then the softened parts are sauteed in garlic, onions, and ginger.
This is simmered and when tender and cooked, the bile is added for the bitter taste. The amount of bile depends on the preference of the eaters. In some parts of Ilocos, they like it more bitter and add more of the bile. Here at Slaughterhouse, they have tempered this to a light bitter flavor to the soup. They say that this is the best antidote to a hangover.
The inihaw na baboy and the blood sauce is another must. This has changed a lot and lacks the delicious, candied corners from the heat of charcoal and the smokey taste of burned pork fat flames that lick the sides of the meat. The clean crispy grilled meat that has tender meat on the inside, quite like the air fried meats, has replaced the former charcoal grilled ones.
Of course, these are healthier options and environmentally friendlier ways of cooking, one misses the fire charred surfaces. But still delicious with the blood sauce mixed with chili peppers and some calamansi.
Chicharon bulaklak has been modified in many restaurants to improve the crispiness and flavor. This time, the crispiness of the pork intestines has been enhanced by a light coating with flour. It has tenderized the connective tissues too. This is dipped in spiced vinegar with onions and chili peppers. This is perfect with a cold bottle of beer in summer.
Liver is a must with this combination of dishes. Fried liver in garlic and soy sauce and caramelized onions is a requirement to make this lunch perfect. The chewy strips of liver and its salty bitter charm is one of my occasional favorite meals. It is said that cravings come when the body needs the minerals in the food. I like to dwell on this for a moment while I indulge.
To carry the dangerous diet into good light, it is not so bad to indulge in this kind of fare once or twice a year. It is comforting to think that instead of the boring multi-vitamins that we take, making them savory from meats and meals is a nice spike.
Enjoy what you eat, but don’t kill your body.