Food is one of the main reasons why we travel. It is one of the most important aspects of experiencing a place and thru its food, you get a glimpse of the culture, heritage and identity of its people. That’s why when I was in Bangued, I was looking forward to what this province has to offer.
Bangued, the capital of Abra, due to its proximity to the Ilocos Region, actually it was part of it before transferred to the Cordillera Administrative Region, and with the general population of Ilocano descent, has a common cuisine. There’s bagnet, lomo lomo, imbaliktad, dinengdeng, miki, garlicky longanisa and much more.
My Ilocano cuisine experience is limited. Except for bagnet, dinengdeng, igado and pinakbet, plus the empanada, longanisa and miki, that’s all there is. But then, I had breakfast and lunch at the house of Vice Governor Chari Bersamin and I got to taste imbaliktad, quickly stir fried beef and lomo lomo and I was, wow! It was delicious home cooking. The meat was tender and well flavored. And these two were just for breakfast.
Other than the garlicky longanisa, which I love very much that I had to apologize for eating more, there was the grilled long green pepper that got me curious. The heat is almost negligible. Dip it in bagoong and you have this one of a kind appetizer.
When a hearty lunch was served, there was pinipiyan which is native chicken in soup thickened with ground rice and colored with achuete (annatto). In another dish, almost hidden amongst the vegetables of the dinengdeng were dried river eels that I first encountered while trekking in Tubo, Abra. Fatty and a good source of fresh water protein for hunters. And there’s the delicious squash flowers stuffed with well seasoned ground meat then fried that made my lunch filling.
Although I wasn’t able to taste much dessert, I did have the biko which is also present in other provinces. One that I had for the first time was masa, large cookie like disks that easily breaks off but once you bite, you’re in for a delicious filling that is akin to bibingka with strips of buko!
What about you? Have you tasted Bangued/Ilocano dishes before?
Great thanx to Vice Governor Chari Bersamin for making my Abra trip possible.