Manila Vanilla

What it's like to be a U.S. Fulbright scholar, basketball player, journalist, and the whitest man in Metro Manila.

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Location: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

New Yorker by birth, shipped across the globe to the world of malls, shanty-towns, patronage, corruption, basketball and a curious burnt-toast smell that wafts around at dusk

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Spreading Joy (and Smuckers)

The Fulbright program is all about cultural exchange. When the House and Senate Appropriations Committees vote to keep the government money flowing to Fulbright scholars, they’re not thinking about making some goofball’s oddball dream about studying basketball in the Philippines come true, they’re thinking that sending a handful of bright kids abroad will improve America’s image across the globe.

Americans eat the darndest things.


Well, Senators Clinton and Schumer, feel proud of me because I’m doing my part. While on a 14-hour boat ride to the Visayas, I introduced that exotic American delicacy, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, to a couple of Filipino friends. With the look on his face stuck between caution and disgust, one of them said he’d tried peanut butter on bread and jelly on bread, but never thought of combining the two.

Warily, he opened his mouth wide and plunged into the vast unknown. “This is really good!” he said. It wouldn’t be a true cultural exchange if it were only going in one direction, and I’ve tried Pinoy treats like sisig, a sizzling platter of pig jowls and ears, puwit, also known as skewered, barbecued chicken ass, and the vaunted balut, a hard-boiled egg with a partially developed duck embryo inside. Now, having fulfilled the cultural obligations of my grant, I can spend the rest of my days in the Philippines raping and plundering.

3 Comments:

Anonymous NYC Teacher said...

The Politically Correct Committee from your home state of New York may well accuse you of "culinary imperialism," a new category of pecadillos. How about peanut butter on pig jowels?
Are there any culinary patterns discernible amongs Filippino basketball players? In an earlier blog piece, you mentioned that pre-teen leagues take a food break between games, or during games. Is it a "social" break? It can't possibly be necessary as a food for fuel break.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous tu prima said...

I had a pretty similar experience on a busride in Mexico. Though skeptical at first, my friend came back after trying the pbj and part embarassed, part excited asked if I had any more 'cream of the peanut' and 'sauce of fruit' (my own faulty literal translation).

2:16 AM  
Blogger Jules said...

rafe, you should try "guava jelly and peanutbutter" sandwich. yummee

the best guava jelly is in the OPTA shop along the next parallel street next to katipunan (Abad street?) near the montessori school.. the street along the trikes route...

you won't regret buying one!!

12:29 PM  

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