PHILIPPINES

The Philippines: Cock-Fighting Tradition

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Cock-fighting remains a popular local sport throughout the Philippines, a hotbed of gambling and death.  Fights are held in a variety of venues, from the largest sports arenas (Araneta Coliseum seats approximately 15,000 people) to local coliseums to the most unassuming places in the barangays.  Gamblers will continuously point fingers and shout at anyone nearby, in the hopes of finding someone interested in taking a bet.  So, unless you want to bet on the life of one of the contestants, keep a low profile.  Over one hundred birds may compete in a series of fights staged throughout the day, starting in the early morning and continuing well into the afternoon.  Curved blades are tied to the back of the fighter’s leg.  The breeders allow the birds to face each other.  Then they attack, jumping into the air, slashing at each other.  A referee is on hand to assess whether the fight can continue; he will hold a falling bird down and assess whether the fight resumes or ends.  The animal rights concerns are apparent.  The practice is vehemently opposed by numerous animal rights groups.

Araneta Coliseum, located in Quezon City, F2 0810, hosts fights throughout the year, including the The Rizal Gamefowl Breeders Association end of year tournament, with elimination fights held throughout the Philippines.  Smaller coliseums with fights staged by local associations are plentiful.  If anyone is interested is establishing their own cock-fighting enterprise in the Philippines, then you’re sorely out of luck.  Cock-fighting is one of the few industries set aside exclusively for Filipino citizens under the Foreign Investment Act of 1991.

Written by Jason Summerfield

Chinese Cuisine: Salted Duck Eggs – Itlog na pula

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They might look harmless, but be warned. These are the culinary counterparts to the Dead Sea, duck eggs saturated with salt.  To the uninitiated, they can send your tongue curling and cholesterol climbing. While generating less media attention than balut, the flavor if not the appearance of the salted duck egg is far more abrasive. Nonetheless, salted duck eggs are a noteworthy contribution to a national cuisine committed to rich, flavorful foods. The yolks, in particular, are dense, literally mouth-watering and invariably less intense than the saltier whites. The eggs are cured in a salt mixture for several days and then boiled.  The end result is either painted red or wrapped in a red package to distinguish them from the unsalted variety (you can spot them from the opposite end of a grocery store). For those with a suitable palette, salted duck eggs can be enjoyed by themselves, but for the most part, are used in conjunction with other ingredients or recipes, most notably, Chinese moon cakes.

To be found in any Filipino or Chinese grocery.

Here is an article on incorporating the salted duck egg into contemporary Chinese cuisine.

Written by Jason Summerfield