Sira-sira store: A penchant for pairs-A A +A
By Ober Khok
Friday, August 16, 2013
TWO by two the animals got off Noah’s ark after the flood had receded into the womb of the earth. Well, the unclean creatures were more in number—seven per kind—I guess because more of them get killed by nervous housewives (cockroaches) and macho men (uh, snakes). But then that depends on what translation of the Bible you are reading.
To prevent a heated debate about numbers or committing blasphemy, let’s go to science.
A quick trip around the Internet will show that Mother Nature likes to pair things.
Gibbons, turtle doves, love birds, swans, wolves, seahorses, albatrosses, French angelfish and even black vultures mate for life.
The human body is a perfect example of symmetry: a pairs of eyes, ears, lips, hands, feet and liver. The spare tire comes in good stead when the other part fails due to man’s carelessness.
When it comes to the table, Filipinos like a pair of victuals to feed his body and soul. Filipinos call it pares-pares.
The most popular pares-pares is what I call the Kargador Overload, which is a combination of a mountain of rice, a bowl of monggo soup and a saucer of pansit. If you notice, the meal is overloaded with carbohydrates, thus its name.
No matter where people go—from Cebu to Manila to Baguio, from Cagayan de Oro to Zamboanga to Davao—they will find the salvation of their hunger. It is the most popular pares-pares in the Philippines, if I may say so. It’s what I call Eggs-change Deal.
The common denominator is the egg or itlog in the dish, paired with meat and fried rice or sinangag. These are tapsilog (tapa, sinangag and itlog); dogsilog or hotsilog (hotdog takes the place of the tapa); bwadsilog (buwad or dried fish); hamsilog (with ham); bacsilog (with bacon); longsilong (with longganisa); cornsilog (with corned beef); bangsilog (with bangus); and chorsilog (with chorizo).
A person can eat any of these and then another, and then after that pares-pares will taste the same. And yet, people will keep ordering a serving on any given day.
Why do Filipinos like to pair things when it comes to food? I believe we like to have everything in one dish to make the meal convenient and satisfying. It maximizes the flavor of meager ingredients to come up with a handsome plate worthy of publicity.
A few slices of meat soaked with flavorings will go a long way with the highly seasoned fried rice and the creamy blandness of eggs on easy or scrambled.
Never to be missed in every occasion is spaghetti, and this is the basis of another set of pares-pares. Who among Pinoys does not know spagrice (spaghetti served with rice) and spagbread (spaghetti served with toasted bread or garlic bread)? Silence means yes.
And who does not know Morning Dip Buddies? Pan de sal is a popular bread that most Pinoys have for breakfast. The perfect pares-pares would be pan de sal with coffee or pan de sal with hot chocolate.
Simply put, Filipinos want simple food that is simply full of flavor. It is not redundant for him to have rice every day and pair it with some cured meat or fish.
It’s just a reflection of the mother tongue.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 17, 2013.