Fondly referred to as the Culinary Capital of the Philippines, Pampanga is a province immersed in rich flavours both in cuisine and heritage landmarks.
Culture Shock’s Pampanga Food and Heritage Tour takes you on a journey of food and faith, how the everyday life of the Kapampangan of years past is centered in the kitchens and in places of worship. In this tour, one will understand the intricacies of food preparation which can lead to a deeper appreciation of Pampango cuisine. One will also visit age-old churches and heritage houses, monuments of Pampanga’s illustrious history.
The food tour is a dégustation – a careful, appreciative tasting of various food. The goal is to sample and savor traditional Kapampangan delicacies rather than binge on an all-you-can-eat buffet. As the Kapampangans have a reputation for whipping up feasts for guests, you can opt to bring some food back home.
The first stop is at the Borromeo house where Atching Lillian serves a hearty breakfast of tsokolate batirol, pisto (breakfast omelette), qilahin (a dish of pork meat and liver, similar to igado), morcon (embutido to the Tagalogs), tamales (glutinous rice cakes topped with peanut sauce, shredded chicken and duck eggs), paku (fern) salad and various kakanin. She also does an interactive demonstration and story-telling of how the famous San Nicolas cookies are made.
Two churches are up next: San Guillermo Parish in Bacolor and Sta. Rita de Cascia Parish in Sta. Rita. San Guillermo is popularly known for its being sunk in lahar after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991. Sta Rita on the other hand claims to be the oldest parish in the Philippines named after the patron saint. It also houses a first-class relic of Sta. Rita de Cascia, the patron saint for lost and impossible causes.
Lunch is served at the Salaria, the ancestral home of the Gosioco family. Atching May serves an array of meat, fish and vegetables: sale manok (chicken in lemongrass soup),asado matua (pork fried in its own juices and simmered in its gravy until dry), ningnang bangus (stuffed and grilled milkfish), and a squash, string beans and shrimp combo. Paired with fresh buko juice, the banquet is complete. Atching May welcomes guests inside their home and demonstrates old-school cooking using firewood and clay pots.
Betis Church in Guagua is next. It is referred to as the Sistine Chapel of the Philippines because of its hand-painted interior. It also boasts the finest woodcrafts the town of Betis is famous for.
While in Guagua, a visit to the famous Razon’s halo-halo is a must to cool down in the afternoon.
Every trip away from home calls for pasalubong. Susie’s Cuisine is loved by visitors and Kapampangans alike for their wide selection of pastries. Leche flan, pastillas, turones de casuy and tibok-tibok are just some of the treats available here.
Capping the tour is a merienda cena of exotic dishes at Everybody’s Café. On the menu are stuffed frogs, fried mole crickets and tapang kalabaw. For the less daring, there is hito sa buro’t mustasa (catfish with fermented rice and mustard leaves) and morcon, one of their best sellers.
Duration: day trip (8-10 hours)
Introductory rate of only Php2,200.00 per head for June 2, 2012!
Assembly time and place: 6:30AM at McDonald’s El Pueblo, Ortigas