One of the things that is already embedded in the Filipino culture is carinderia. In the Philippines, these food stalls are ubiquitous, serving our favorite lutong-bahay at a very cheap price.
Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the UAE also crave for the taste of home that carinderias or eateries can provide – from the hot sour soup of sinigang and the irresistible tortang talong, to the saucy menudo and crunch of sisig.
Even the Philippine president himself, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, was once spotted eating with his bare hands at a humble “turo-turo” in Davao City. It was said that the two-decade mayor of the southern city, often jumpstarts his day with a hearty breakfast at a carinderia located near his house at the Doña Luisa Village, a middle-class subdivision. Ermelita Garcia Castanieto, owner of the Thrunks Place eatery, revealed that Duterte has been her “suki” for many years now. Castanieto said his favorite foods include sautéed monggo beans, gizzard and pork adobo, pansit, and “paksiw na isda.”
Restaurants offer the same food too. However, there is this distinct difference between dining in a restaurant and dining in a carinderia.
Here are 6 scenarios that you can only experience in one of these local carinderias
1. Giniling kahapon, torta na bukas
Photo source: SarapChannel (Youtube)
As long as food in carinderia is not yet spoiled, owners will find a way to transform leftovers into something appetizing to be served the next day.
The idea may sound unappetizing, but it is normal for Filipino culture to recreate leftovers for later consumption. The same goes with kanin transformed to sinangag and giniling to torta.
Don’t be deceived by the idea of leftovers, though as these meals still taste as good as the original especially when the owner really knows what she is doing.
2. Sabaw palang ulam na
Photo credit to the owner
Water is not the only thing you can have for free when you eat in a carinderia. Just call the server and ask for that warm bowl of their “sabaw of the day” and you are ready to go.
Whether you mix the soup with your rice or sip it as it is, a lunch or dinner is for sure more satisfying with a bowl of free soup.
The best thing about this is that there are eateries where you can buy rice and only have the soup as your side, especially those who are on a budget.
3. Half rice o unli rice?
Unlike restaurants where single serving of rice is required for each meal, eateries offer servings as little as half or servings as big as unlimited. What is good about the half rice serving is not only you have more control of what you consume but you also save money since you only pay for what you eat.
There are instances where you enjoyed your meal so much, a single serving of rice is not enough. The tendency is to order another serving of rice but end up realizing midway you are already full. What usually happens with the leftover? It gets thrown away.
4. Turo dito, turo doon
If you are an avid customer of restaurants, you may be used to menus welcoming you whenever you try to order. You are presented with images of the different meals that the restaurant offers. In eateries, however, all the meals offered from sides to main course to desserts are laid in for you seemingly calling you to eat them.
The good thing about this is you will not be fooled by food that look good in pictures but actually do not taste good once eaten. Food in eateries are presented in front of customers, buffet-style, where customers can see the color and texture of the food in flesh. All you have to do is pick your order and the server will take care of serving it to you.
5. Nairaos ang petsa de peligro
Photo source: Tadong Genius Kuno
It’s just the 20th of the month yet you only have less than enough money to survive you until pay day? Well, Carinderia is a go-to place for you!
With as low as 30 pesos, one can already enjoy a munggo with malunggay and a single serving of rice plus free soup. This meal can already give someone a full belly by the end of lunch. Some carinderias are more complicated than others by offering different mixes-and-matches.
Others offer “combo meals”, “student meals”, and even “tipid meals” depending on the liking of their customers. You will never run out of ways to make the most out of your money when eating in a carinderia.
6. Feels like home
At the end of the day, we all run home to our favorite carinderias because as the heading suggest, the food you can eat in a carinderia is the same food you can eat at home, in Tagalog terms, “lutong-bahay”.
Those who work in the city, especially the modernized ones, have no choice but to eat in fast food chains or restaurants during their lunch or dinner breaks. Eating in fast food chains day-in and day-out, at some point, will be unsatisfying anymore and will make you realize how much you long for a hot soup of sinigang or the crunch of a sisig.
Carinderia, in a way, is our home away from home.
What is your most memorable carinderia experience?
NOTE: Featured photo was taken from Mark Wiens’ Youtube channel.