Yesterday we celebrated Mary Ann’s birthday. Usually she avoids holding a party at home because she is worried she will end up doing all the cooking. However, friends offered to help out, so the party was on. As parties go it was a fairly straight forward affair – an afternoon and evening spent eating and drinking – ending up with karaoke of course.
I have to admit that I can take or leave some of the more everyday Filipino food, such as sinigang. But the dishes that are more commonly found at parties, fiestas and other special events, include some of my favourites. On the menu yesterday was kaldereta, dinuguan (with puto), sweet and sour chicken, two types of fried chicken (plain and spicy Korean-style) and of course pancit. I must admit I am a particular fan of dinuguan, which many Filipinos find surprising (‘Oh you like dinuguan already’). For the uninitiated, dinuguan is a sort of meat stew with blood as a primary ingredient in the gravy, which as a consequence is dark brown in colour. I particularly like the way Mary Ann makes it, from black pudding rather than raw blood. It makes for a thicker and tastier sauce.
We also had some wonderful desserts: cassava cake, banana cake, puto and one of my favourites, brazo de mercedes (literally “Mercedes’ arm”)which is a soft meringue wrapped around a custard filling. Usually we don’t have dessert after meals, so this really was a treat. It’s going to take a couple more days to work our way through all the left overs. Perhaps it’s just as well that birthdays only come round once a year.