I still recall, with undiminished disgust and rage, how during a particularly delicious lunch break some years back at a former office, an elderly expat colleague so nonchalantly declared that people in poorer countries eat lots of carbohydrates.
The rest of us were too busy ingesting warm, fresh-cooked rice to even react properly to the undisguised slur. Perhaps it was good that we didnât like him that much anyway, so we let it off with a shrug and a muttered curse under our breath. From that day on, we didnât offer him any food we had with us.
Pinoys eat carbs (rice) because we love to, and Asian cuisine has always had its fair share of itâjust the way we want it in this part of the world. So there, Mr. Smartypants.
From July 1 to August 15, Rustanâs Supermarket, through its âAsian Streetfood Invasionâ promotion, shows us just how yummy the pedestrian fare is in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Beyond a food fest, the supermarket chain brings in authentic products and ingredients so that you can conjure up the good stuff as close as possible to the original street versions.
Rustans Supercenter, Inc. president and CEO Donnie Tantoco was on hand at the recent promotion launch in Rockwell Powerplant Mall in Makati City. âA visit to any of our neighboring countries is not complete without a stop at a street hawkers stall or a local mom-and-pop outlet,â he said. âEating street food is a multi-sensory experienceâitâs about taste, texture, color, variety, value, and flavors that say âauthentic.ââ
These are the days of an increasingly upwardly mobile populationâa greater number of whom has been able to jet around the world. This means more of us have gained an appreciation of places (and flavors) other than our own.
Indeed, continued Tantoco: âAcross cultures, language, and geography, food binds people into a universal experience â a common ground, a way of revealing and understanding. This is especially true in Asia and good street food in the region is an experience not to be missed.â
Consider the Vietnamese pho (noodle soup), goi cuon (fresh spring rolls), bun cha (barbecued pork marinated in chili ginger and garlic); the Thai curries, standard phad thai (fried noodles with dried shrimp and tofu); Singaporean interpretations of Malay, Indian, and Chinese cuisine; and the satay and such of Malaysia.
A recessive hunter-gatherer gene in me stirred eagerly after my wife Joyce excitedly asked me to sample a particularly tasty shrimp cake with sweet-spicy dipping sauce (a Thai creation). The usual urge to let our feet take us to a Thai restaurant would be a copout in this occasion, so I challenged myself to try and make aforementioned street treat. Iâm sure the missus will help me realize this dream, saying: âI support you; now go do the groceries.â
To this end, the folks at Rustanâs Supermarkets have lined up interesting events in addition to stocking their shelves with exotic ingredients. Live cooking demonstrations and a weekend hawkerâs market are on tap at the Rockwell outlet on July 14, at Shangri-La Mall on July 28, and Rustanâs Supermarket Makati on August 11.
âAsian Streetfood Invasionâ leaflets will be made available to assist, um, hunter-gatherers in their quest for ingredients and other products from the featured countries.
Topping it off is a raffle that will send winners to one of several featured destinations, complete with a city tour and, of course, street food experience. Airfare and three-day hotel accommodations are thrown in, too. Shoppers spending at least P500 get a raffle coupon.
Tantoco called the promotion âa chance to live our transnational hunger.â I call it a chance to whip up a storminâ good Asian meal.
Yes, with rice.