A casual mention of it is enough to send eyes looking at you and women hiding a giggle. Or even a condescending stare trying to look at you from head to toe (and stopping at the crotch) and thinking if you’re having inadequacies under the sheets. But for its believers, lansiao is better than that blue pill.
Speak of Cebu and images of the Sto. Nino, the province’s patron, comes to mind. And so does the valiant Lapu-Lapu, sweet mangoes, the famous lechon, guitars and beaches. But it is more than that. Cebu is a special and beautiful place. It is also my home.
It was almost a hard search as my initial foray in finding a suitable place to document and try out this virility soup ended in failure as the carinderia (local eatery) agreed at first but gave all sorts of reasons not to accommodate me. Until I was directed to the one at the Ramos market which is said to have been selling lansiao since the 1980s.
It was past 1300H when I arrived at the market atop an elevated portion of the road. Gone is the old shack at the opposite end that a friend said this eatery used to be located. Instead, it is at just a portion of a long cement top with big kalderos (large metal pot) holding, among others, hot and steaming lansiao at one and mais or steamed roughly ground corn, a Cebuano staple and an alternate to rice, at another.
This is my entry for the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’s Blog Carnival with the theme Quirky Pinoy Food hosted by Journeying James. Click on the graphic at the left to visit the blog carnival page. Only a few men, laborers, dropped by and ordered a steaming bowl. At just P20, it is cheap. With trepidation, I got one too, seated myself on one of the high plastic chairs and stared and photographed and trying to check what’s just in there.
The steaming small and green plastic bowl was half filled with bits of meat, minced and diced, and pieces of skin cut into squares. I really can’t tell where’s the testicles and penis but its there somewhere, floating in the thick brown soup.
According to Ivan Man Dy of Old Manila Walks, who I texted and asked about the word, lansiao in Hokkien is lan chiao which means like a penis. Is it possible that the Chinese introduced this dish centuries ago considering that they almost, always, eat all kinds of moving creatures and their body parts?
I took a spoonful of the broth. It was salty for my taste but manageable. Kind of good, by the way, and another spoonful. I worked the dish with my spoon, trying to analyze the different bits and pieces.
The skin was gelatinous and soft. The pieces of lean meat with membranes on parts of it was also tender. And then there was this unusual part that I can’t just tell. Almost smooth. No strip of fat except for a thin layer of a flap like covering. Can this be it?
In a few minutes I’ve already consumed the contents of the bowl sans mais or rice. It was filling in itself, hearty at best. The soup isn’t too thick but what was memorable was that the meat and parts were tender, pleasant to the tongue and especially good on a cool afternoon. For the eatery’s patrons, it is one of the top draws and people, mostly men, it’s the number one dish ordered.
I really don’t know if one should feel something after eating it or in a few minutes or hours, dilate the veins down under. I didn’t get a hard on or was walking with a boner. Or is it all in the mind to help one perform better in bed? But was it just a coincidence that I was under the sheets a few hours later?