Words by Maffi Deparis
Looking for good food, especially for the adventurous budget traveler, can mean meandering the beach paths of Boracay and stumbling upon open-air stalls. The savory smells of soy seasoning, chillies, fried pork fat and gizzard cling to your hair, permeate your skin, and assail your nostrils; then the heady smell of grilled meat cloaked in voluminous smoke of charcoal fire finally gets your taste buds tingling.
King Corn. Holy corn! At 5PM these massive corn on the cobs dripping with butter and salt are a tasty treat for any hungry traveler looking for something to eat without committing to the whole restaurant experience. Buy one for 50 pesos and keep walking! They also come in bite-sized cups.
BBQ. Imagine long ago, before Andoks, Yellow Cab, shawarma and king corn, we had the BBQ stand in all its smoky, crackling glory! Since time immemorial, the BBQ stand has fed throngs of locals, party goers, and the downright hungry on the island, and will do so long after the last franchise has packed up and shipped their cargo back to the mainland. Prices are reasonable and you can get anything from adidas (chicken feet), liver, gizzard, to your usual Tender Juicy and red meat delights. You can even request for your bread to be barbequed!
Chorizo Burger. You don’t know Boracay until you’ve had a Chorizo burger. Somebody from an open-air BBQ stand must have decided to put a Chorizo in a bun, slather it with spicy-sweet sauce, and voila, a legend is born! Simple but satisfying, the Chorizo burger has been the favorite of families and stumbling drunks for almost eleven years. Request for it at BBQ stands islandwide.
Fruit Cornucopia. The Island Long Ago used to be a place where fishermen dried their fishes, hung their nets, and planted coconuts and cassava. The only fruits that grew on the island were tough and mostly bitter, very good with salt but not good enough for fruit salad. So local ladies from the mainland would bring mangoes, mangosteens, papaya, rambutan, star apples, and green mangoes in large baskets they carried on their heads to sell to the unusual tourists that visited the island of Boracay in the day. The fruits may be a little expensive, but considering the effort it takes to get them to the island, they’re definitely worth it. Plus, it’s a Boracay tradition. You can’t miss these beautiful ladies still carrying their original baskets in front of Summer Place at White Beach Station 2.
Balut. OK, so there are lot of TV shows that feature balut as one of the world’s scariest things to eat, but I say Pshaw! The name is tainted with a squealing, eye-rolling, nose-snubbing bias it so does not deserve! It doesn’t have to take a seasoned epicure or an X-Factor contestant to enjoy the soupy, chewy, feathery goodness that is embryo—I mean balut. Sprinkled with a little salt and vinegar, it tastes gamy and rich and, if it weren’t for the packaging, it would be accepted worldwide. You don’t have to eat the chick if you don’t want to!
Fish and Pork Fat Crackers. Sitting out by Exit Bar with a bottle of beer, you can buy these tasty treats with a packet of garlic peanuts and you’re good to go! Chicharon is fried pork fat, fluffy like a heart-stopping, artery-blocking cloud, but oh-so-worth-it with vinegar just that once!