New Year, Old Foods Traditions
by Arianne Z.
Filipinos, in general, are quite fond of old customs and tradition. Me, not so much. I often find them a bit paradoxical especially in a country who prides itself as a “catholic” nation who believe in evil spirits and other pagan tradition.Now I’m not about to raise a war on tradition because I do realize the part it plays on our culture, as a whole. I guess, I am simply of of those people who can’t embrace an idea who main logic is a bit fuzzy to start with.
Although I am not a fan, I often find it amusing to learn more about them. When in a social gathering, I try to uncover the rationale behind a certain custom by asking some older folks in the event. The answers borders from informative to those that are simply absurd.
Ushering the new year is no different. In fact, I would consider it as one of the most “custom” filled celebration. With hopes of attracting good luck and prosperity in the coming year, these customs are practiced each year and passed on to the next generation.
But if there is a certain tradition that I am willing to go along with, that would be the FOOD. Based on the effort exerted by an average Filipino household in keeping up with the customary dishes, I would say that they like them too.
A staple food in an average Filipino household during the media noche is the round fruits.
I’m not exactly sure why it has to be round but I am guessing that it has something to do with money. Having 12 or 13 types of fruits (the rounder, the better) would be preferable, although I am again ignorant about the significance of the number. My guess is that it is linked with a Chinese tradition, more like the Chinese Zodiac.
Basing on the sheer number of fruits on the table, you might think that this tradition isn’t bad given that the food served are nutritious, right?
WRONG. Health foods end here.
Enter the Best.Pig. Ever.
The Lechon, A slow roasted piece of heaven featured on Anthony Bourdain’s visit here. The crisp pork skin is enough for any hypertensive granddad to forget his doctor’s advice, OR even his last quadruple bypass surgery. This dish alone has often been found guilty for causing heart attack or hypertensive crisis during weddings, birthdays and holidays.
So why is it served despite being an obvious health risk? Well the taste is one. Not all of them are really that yummy though. But if you ever found one that taste really good, make sure you brought whatever medication that you will need because I can assure you that you will be back for more. Aside from the gastronomical benefit, serving Lechon on any occasion is a way to brandish financial wealth. The dish itself seems to speak for the host, “I do because I can.” For the new year, it is believe that in order to attract prosperity, one must have something to show for it, hence the abundant table setting, free-flowing booze, etc
Because it can be a bit pricey, one can also turn to its cousin, the Crispy Pata. It is just basically the thigh of a pig marinated and then deep-fried. This dish is cheaper than Lechon, but the cholesterol content may be even slightly higher.
Now we move on to the sweet part, the dessert. Of all foods served during this season, this is what i look forward to the most.
It is considered “good luck” to serve sticky foods for the New Year’s Eve dinner. This really sound lame but it is said that sticky foods are served so that the good luck will stick around longer.
My favorite is the Ube or the purple yam pudding. I just can’t get enough of its creamy goodness. There is also the Leche Flan, Palitaw and Biko (or rice cake) all of them packed with a lot of carbs and magic powder…SUGAR!
I can’t think of any other dishes since I am typing this post in front of a small tub of Ube. I consider myself sufficiently distracted.
I do hope that aside from the show of extravagance and wealth, moderation in the consumption of these foods be practiced. If there is one custom that I would like to keep, that would be the tradition of keeping me and my family health.
A sweet, bountiful and prosperous New Year to All!
Oh, and here’s to me for completing the Writing Weekly Challenge! yey! thanks D