Ding Dong and the Importance of Forgiveness

As many of my friends know (and are quite tired of hearing), I am honestly not the biggest fan of food in Manila. To get a really good meal here requires either a lot of determination or a lot of money – and given the minuscule portion sizes relative to my chubby 6 foot frame, a small appetite doesn’t hurt, either.

However, I do love a lot of Filipino food. The Philippines boasts some delicious regional cuisines, such as Bicol’s red hot specialties, or the turmeric-mad (and equally chilli-saturated) food of the Maranao. Perhaps best of all is the irresistible freshness of Cebuano dishes, with their mouth-watering lemongrass-scented soups, incredible kinilaw (basically a Filipino version of ceviche), and delectably tender barbeque – all of which have spread through the southern Philippines and, in some cases, have even been improved upon in places like Davao City. But one thing that Manila is good for is snack foods. There are plenty of salty, sweet, guiltily delicious ways to fill in a spare corner of my stomach, even if actually filling it to capacity tends to be a challenge given my monstrous appetite. Stop by the local Family Mart, 7/11, or, if you have no choice, Mini-Stop, and take in the vast cornucopia of addictively unhealthy munchables!

And it’s a great time to be a lover of snack foods in the Philippines. Even a few years ago I felt like I had to rely on expensive imported US brands to really satisfy my MSG cravings, but the country appears to be undergoing a snack food renaissance. Local snack food manufacturers are really bringing their A-game with new offerings like Oishi’s Gourmet Picks (in the absolutely divine wasabi flavour and its somewhat less impressive counterparts), or Leslie’s new Farmer John chips – the salt and vinegar flavour is pretty close to heaven, and ensures that I’ll never have to waste my money on Lay’s again. I know this sounds like a press release, but I really do love a good potato chip – all respect due to the food chemists who engineered these modern-day marvels!

One of the less glamourous old-school entries in the Philippine snack food lineup is Ding Dong. Basically, it’s an assortment of dried crunchy things that is, for some reason, being marketed as “mixed nuts” (more on that later).

Source: https://crispsofthecaribbean.wordpress.com/ding-dong-mixed-nuts/
Source: https://crispsofthecaribbean.wordpress.com/ding-dong-mixed-nuts/

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Reflections on Drowning My First Rat

After two very busy months during which I simply couldn’t find the time to blog, I have been pulled back into the blogging world by some exciting news: I just drowned my first rat!

You’ll have to forgive my gallows humour, as my mind is, in fact, heavily burdened with the great significance of what I have done. For the first time ever, I have intentionally killed an animal that I could imagine having a mind – that is, something that exists as a separate entity beyond a series of instinctual reactions to nervous stimuli. I have just drowned, with ruthless efficiency, something that is much closer to my beloved dogs than it is to bacteria, plankton or protozoa. And not only that, but I have already murdered four of them, perhaps with plenty more to come.

As you can imagine (if you don’t already know), Metro Manila is positively overrun with rats and roaches. The roaches create no ethical quagmire for me – they are as vile as they are stupid, even if nature has endowed them with a remarkable set of skills for invading human living space and exploiting it in the most disgusting ways possible. I have murdered hundreds of roaches in every way imaginable: squashing, spraying, and – the least messy and most satisfying option for those encountered in the bathroom – incapacitating them by spraying them with the bidet hose, picking them up by one antenna with a piece of tissue, and then flushing them down the toilet. Out of sight, out of mind!

Unfortunately, the rats create a more prickly conundrum for the animal-loving ethicist. For years I never had to deal with this veritable Sophie’s choice because I lived in condos, and apparently rats are far less intrepid than roaches when it comes to climbing up to the 34th floor. But since I transitioned to suburban bliss in Muntinlupa City, I’ve had to deal with all the pitfalls of having your own house and yard: leaky roofs, constant fear of burglary, nosy neighbours, and yes, rats. Read More