What is a Filipino breakfast?
Early morning in a traditional household, a farmer is getting ready to walk the field at the break of dawn. He must of course have his breakfast before leaving. In the kitchen are cold rice (lamig) and viand left over from the night before. The sinangag is prepared by moistening cold rice with water and fried briefly with a little garlic. The leftover viand is heated or left cold. A cup of hot coffee, and there’s breakfast.
At times the lady of the house might fry or grill something quickly: dried meats (tapang baka, kalabaw, usa, or dried fish (tuyo, daing, tinapa) when no left over food is available.
The children who are made ready for school, are served on the table with variations of sinangag, tapa, longganiza, tocino, and eggs fried, scrambled or boiled. Juice perhaps, or chocolate or coffee is also prepared. Or it may be champorado (rice cooked with chocolate, on which to sprinkle bits of dried, crisp tapa).
Other variations would have a similar pattern but different elements like bacon, hot dogs, cold cut ham, sausages and pan de sal in place of rice or in place of pan de sal could be bagel, doughnut, croissant, bread slices or toast with jams and spreads. A five-layer pancake with thick maple syrup and butter is also another variation.
Most fast foods like Jollibee, McDonald’s, Chowking are open as early as 7:00 a.m. to serve breakfast combinations mentioned above. Other restaurants like the Pancake House, Heaven n’ Eggs, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf serve Continental or American breakfast. There are also restaurants that offer a breakfast-all-you-can feast as well as All-Day-Breakfast like Max’s, Cafe Ten Titas and Cafe Adriatico.
In the streets of Manila, early morning vendors, tricycle drivers, students, call center agents and all types of citizens may all gather at Pares where the choice ranges from tapsilog, longsilog, tocilog, to corned beef, meatloaf, danget or daing with egg and sinangag.
So what is a Filipino Breakfast? Everything mentioned above.
Food expert and writer, Doreen Fernandez has left us with an observation about Filipino breakfast. The traditional fare in the agricultural communities was left-over or a fresh pot if nothing was left, fried into classic sinangag. With is ready to eat left-over viand or the quickly cooked tapa or fish preserved whether salted, smoked, or sun-dried.
In a fisherman community, agahan may be set at a time when the fishermen’s boats are coming in or leaving, not necessarily at the time when farmers go to the fields.
The Spaniards brought in the elements of bread, chocolate, sausages, churros and the different ways of cooking eggs. The American presence in government, schools, and popular media introduce hot, griddle, and pancakes, ham-and-eggs, bacon-and-eggs, even Eggs Benedict, and cereals.
Professor Fernandez explains this is the way of intercultural encounters. Many of them happen in the food realm, in the palate and the stomach. We taste when we travel, when we see new things, when we read about them in books and magazines, we tune them on our native palates adapting the food by cooking it slightly different and taking them into our diet patterns and our homes.
So let us all enjoy Filipino breakfast whether served in fast foods, restaurants, or neighborhood karinderia at anytime of the day.
Information source: Doreen Fernandez in Palayok