Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tulabut: American ‘pikinisan’ (Part 1)

My Palm Notes

NEWARK INT’L AIRPORT (via SMART) -- I’m stuck in this airport. I won’t tell for how long now.

The bright side of it is that I’m able to do what I love most – write. The other bright side of it is that I’m able to continue with this series of articles that I’ve started not too long ago.

And that is because being stuck in this airport leaves you without much of a choice but to shop (if you have money), go to restroom (to freshen up) and eat (if you are not on a diet like me).

As I’ve always told my friends “no dieting on travels especially vacation.” That is because I have always advised them to try the local flavors – wherever they may go.

Thus, this eating at the airport – now going for the third time -- just made me write this piece.

Airport Food

American food, er airport food, is not cheap.

This airport is high tech and as it comes with high price. The waiting areas are cool as they are furnished with tablets (presumably iPads) where you can order your food by just sliding your finger, pointing to your likes (sandwiches, beverage, entrees etc). Of course, the table is also equipped with credit card reader where you can pay for food you order. Sounds or looks real techie eh?

It sure is and it sure is pricey too. For example, French fries would cost $9.00 while sodas are all priced $4.00 each. In the Philippines, you can buy four sodas for the price. Don’t go asking for the price of entrees as they are stratospheric.

So, what did I end up to eating? A Dave’s classic cheeseburger with small fries and soda for $9.00. That was for lunch. For snack, I’ve had a chocolate shake in a sit-down diner right inside the airport. It is priced a little less than what is expected of airport food cost. Was it good? It was a glorified chocolate drink as it lacked the thickness that I expected it to have.

Chinatown Food

Newark International Airport is a 30-minute train ride from Manhattan via the NJ Transit from Penn Station, right underneath the world’s famous arena – the Madison Square Garden.

A trip to the Big Apple may not be complete without going to Chinatown at Canal Street. I went there on two occasions in this trip.

On those times, I’ve had particular target buy. The famous siopao and roast pork bun at Mai Lah Wah (“may laway” as our Kababayans would call it in a jest) bakery and restaurant.

Since I’m no big fan of siopao, I enjoyed the latter as they tasted yummy – pretty much like eating a pork adobo in a sandwich. They are better than empanadas. It is a bread with tasty pork slices inside. They cost $1.20 each.

The downside of this place is that even if you ordered two dozens of those, that doesn’t give you the privilege of a seat to wait for your order. Nope, it doesn’t work that way over here. Now, since it was freezing and really cold outside when I bought those, I tried to “legalize” my stay inside the bakery. What did I do? I ordered one more pork roast bun and small coffee that I could eat while waiting. You think I did the trick? Yeahh, but not before being charged for another dollar for my leisurely eat.

The buns were taken to Washington DC for Alex Gomez, a very good friend since high school and George Samson, president of World Medical relief, Inc. in South Field, Michigan.

Oh, on my way home I ordered a half Peking Duck in one of the Chinese restaurants at $12.00 and a Japanese vegetable hibachi combo for $8.00. It wasn’t that bad.

(Ed’s Note: Mr. Tulabut has been writing a series of column pieces in the past about Filipino lives influenced by the Americans during their stay in Clark. He narrated some recollections how life was in and around the former US military base during his childhood and teenage years. This is a continuation with infusion of contemporary setting. He is dedicating this piece to the late SunStar columnist Ram Mercado whom he said has always advised him to write about food trips in his travels to US)


SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates. SunStar reserves the right to delete, reproduce or modify comments posted here without notice. Posts that are inappropriate will automatically be deleted.

Forum rules:

Do not use obscenity. Some words have been banned. Stick to the topic. Do not veer away from the discussion. Be coherent. Do not shout or use CAPITAL LETTERS!