I am supposed to write a blog regarding Aklan, but nevermind – I think this is more edgy. Since summer is at its peak, people in the metropolis go on vacation in various parts of the Philippines in order to escape the excruciating heat of the sun. If there is one thing that bakasyonistas (a Tagalog slang for people on vacation) need to experience before they leave a certain place, I recommend that they taste the culinary extravaganza of the locality aside from enjoying scenic views and other adventures. One thing unique regarding Filipino cuisine is that there are specific food where each town or province has a rendition to offer like the Filipino breakfast favorite, the longganisa (Filipino sausage; chorizo). That being the case, vacation will also become a cultural imprint of food genealogy based on the long and short Filipino sausage.
My love affair with longganisa started out when I was young. I vividly recall those little oval-shaped, bite sized, sweet and caramelized ground meat sucked into pig’s intestines then simmered and fried to perfection. The joy of eating it at breakfast is complemented with sinangag (fried rice), egg and brewed coffee. It was really enjoying food without pretension like when I am eating Jollibee’s tamis-anghang (sweet and spicy) spaghetti or Goldilock’s ube (yam) cake after accompanying my mother to the church on Saturday mornings. Growing up, I began to notice that longganisa has a lot of varieties and it depends on where it was purchased. My aunt was the one who exposed me to the variation since she often visited places and brought home longganisa of various shapes, sizes and taste.
Vigan's famous longganisa (Photo courtesy of Gita Asuncion)
Lucban's version of classic longganisa (Photo courtesy of Flake and Nuts)
Vigan in Ilocos and Lucban in Quezon are two provinces in the Philippines that share prominence when it comes to longganisa making. Vigan and Lucban longganisa are both garlicky and peppery. However, Vigan’s version is smaller but thicker compared to Lucban’s which is thinner but longer in proportion. Also, Vigan’s longganisa is lighter in color most probably because of achuete seeds while Lucban’s is quite darker. If my observation is right, Lucban’s longganisa is too reddish nowadays because of high salitre (curing salt; Prague powder) content, which I think should be reduced to smaller amounts.
Pangasinan's longganisa famed for its toothpick and cushion look (Photo courtesy of Food Cruiser)
Cebu longganisa, the smallest so far (Photo courtesy of munchiebog)
Similar to Vigan longganisa is the Pangasinan version. It is comparably smaller than Vigan’s but nonetheless it is at par with other versions in terms of taste. Pangasinan longganisa is quite unique as well since two toothpicks are used to hold the sausage mixture in place. If fried, the golden color and the protruding toothpicks add wittiness and style to the presentation. It definitely looks like a cute cushion when cooked. In Visayas, I only tasted one longganisa recipe, the Cebu version. Cebu longganisa is comparably small (the smallest I have seen so far), oval in shape, sweet, reddish and almost caramelized when already fried. The taste is reminiscent of the sweet longganisa manufactured by Pampanga’s Best. Kids will probably love the taste and overall look of this version.
Bulacan's pride - Calumpit longganisa
I am also proud that my own province has this fair share of longganisa recipe. In Bulacan, the town of Calumpit is famous for its special longganisa. It is probably the best longganisa I ever tasted. Even my colleagues at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas back then also thought the same thing when I decided to bring some for lunch. I read somewhere (probably on Yes! Magazine) that Calumpit longganisa is Kris Aquino’s personal favorite. It was mentioned in the article that she first tasted it during the taping of her film "Sukob" and from then on she keeps on ordering the revered sausage. As far as I know, Calumpit longganisa is only available in a stall at the Calumpit town market where an old woman used to make it. I remember that my aunt would place an order in advance before we can have the luxury to savor the special sausage. Last week, in celebration of my friend’s arrival from the United States, I specifically requested another friend of mine to serve Calumpit longganisa as the main dish for our intimate luncheon. I am delighted to say that the quality of Calumpit longganisa is still the same – explosively garlicky, peppery, not fatty and truly comforting.
It might be long. It might be short. It does not matter. My Filipino sausage sojourn will continue unless I die because of high cholesterol. Like suka (vinegar), patis (fish sauce), and other food of cultural importance to the Filipino, longganisa, the proudly Filipino sausage, depicts the rich cultural heritage of the Philippines; its cultural diversity exemplified and wrought through food.