Sunday, August 11, 2013
The Bitter Taste That's Sweet
I have not met anyone yet who loves eating "ampalaya". That's "bitter gourd" in English. As the name suggests, this vegetable is terribly bitter! Have you tried one yet?
I recently had dinner at Mongkok. That's the name of the Chinese restaurant I visited for the first time in Glorietta 2 in Makati City. While waiting to be seated, I asked the waiter for the menu. One of the appetizers listed on the menu is the ampalaya. I love ampalaya by the way. I was a weird kid because unlike your average kid who detests all vegetables, I hate vegetables except for ampalaya. Since the menu item does not have a description, I thought that it must be the ampalaya cooked with strips of beef and oyster sauce. Well, it did sound appetizing in my head. So without hesitation I ordered for one.
When I was finally seated, the appetizer immediately followed. I was surprised to see Jenga-like blocks of ampalaya stacked one layer after another, and topped with roasted minced garlic. To tell you the truth, I wasn't so sure if I can eat it.
The ampalaya was steamed. There was no sauce served with the dish. So, I thought of asking for "calamnsi" (native lime of the Philippines), and coat the ampalaya with its juice. The first bite was glorious! My taste buds exploded with the fusion of bitter ampalaya and tangy calamnsi flavors. Add the slightly sweet garlic taste and you have a gastronomic love affair.
This is now officially one of my favorite appetizers. Indeed, bitterness can sometimes be a delight to the senses, and what do you know, also for the health. Now that's SWEET!