Gastric Pulse: Which Ilonggo Food Do You Crave The Most When It Rains?

By sheeber joyce

When July hits, typhoons come one after the other, work and classes get canceled and, worse, electricity and/or internet gets interrupted for hours! (Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world. Yet.) Consequently, there’s a blank space in our minds where boredom settles.

So, what happens when you’re bored? You either take a selfie—oops, that’s disputably a mental disorder now—or, since anyone who reads this probably lives or has lived in Iloilo, you think about food. It’s not just plain gluttony; take into account that basic science says low temperature can ramp up the body’s energy expenditure, so you certainly need the “fuel” to replenish those. Of course, what better way to do that than by eating?

Alright, brace yourselves! I’m about to sound very peculiar: my home has glass walls, glass windows and glass doors. I have 14 dogs, and that’s why I resorted to a specific glass house design that doesn’t get permanent stains from the dogs’ constant “territory markings” and is, thus, easier to clean. However, that is not the peculiar thing I’ll be referring in this paragraph: I also have a thing for rainy seasons.

There is something cathartic about watching the raindrops fall against the glass while I’m in my pajamas holding a cup of hot coffee or a bowl of batchoy. This feeling is as snug as a bug in a rug; so cozy, weird and shallow. But I frequently do it at home when it rains; hence, the existence of the glass structure in our house. But enough of my self-gloating!

Similar to the other ‘Gastric Pulse’ entries (read the first one here), I’ve collated the nostalgic yearnings of our fellow Ilonggos from here and abroad as I disturbed them in the middle of the night so they can share the specific Ilonggo food they miss the most when it rains. Let’s read some of the below!

(Editor’s note: Project Iloilo decided to publish the following answers below in its original, unabridged form)

Laswa (Vegetable Stew)

Gastric Pulse: Laswa - Project Iloilo
“Oh.. I miss laswa when it’s raining (miss it too when there’s a typhoon, an earthquake or a volcano eruption; miss it as well during el nino and la nina; miss it during solar eclispse and lunar eclipse; and miss it during sunrise and sunset). Laswa is my favorite. Why do I miss it? It is the epitome of health- and-taste-combi. None can compare to it. Ok, seriously, I miss it when it’s raining because it tastes really really good while hearing the sound of the rain falling gently on our roof.”

-Ron Lacson, Business CEO, Hongkong

Sinigang nga Tangigue (Mackerel in Tamarind Soup)

Gastric Pulse: Sinigang nga Tangigue - Project Iloilo
“I think it’s sinigang nga tangigue. I always eat it when it rains because of its sour taste and it is hot as we need to warm our bodies for doing nothing but watching the rain fall.”

-Margie Masculino Warren, Entrepreneur, United States

Uga (Dried Salted Fish)

Gastric Pulse: Uga - Project Iloilo
“I crave for grilled dried fish (uga)! The smell of sinugba nga uga serves as an appetite booster during rainy days. It is well-served when coupled with tatay’s sauteed beef or pork leg in ginger and libas leaves’ or ‘sinanlag nga karne sa luy-a kag alabihod‘ as caldo and served with red rice.”

-Maybs Pamplona Parreño, Veterinary Student, Passi City, Iloilo

Pancit Molo

Gastric Pulse: Pancit Molo - Project Iloilo
“Pancit molo! Reminds me of home and my mom makes the best pancit molo ever. Nahidlaw na lang ko tuloy sang Iloilo kay!”

-Karen Yuesin-Pagal, Registered Nurse, Arizona, United States

Arroz Caldo

Gastric Pulse: Arroz Caldo- Project Iloilo
“Arroz caldo, I miss its hearty taste. Even just the smell of its toppings, is already mouthwatering, usually paired with hot pandesal, it surely makes a perfect comfort food during rainy days.”

-Louie Nirza, Seafarer, Iloilo City, Iloilo

Tabagak (Dried Salted Sardines)

Gastric Pulse: Tabagak - Project Iloilo
“Ahhh.. I always cry for tabagak (or any dried fish)) with tomato+onion (as sawsawan) and aloy nga isda/milk fish with soy sauce, vinegar, chili and calamansi sawsawan.. a lot in my mind actually.. plus warm potchero and unlimited rice, ugh, that’s it whenever rainy season strikes back there. My first choice is the most though.”

-Diana Rose Kill, Expat Mom, South Korea

With all those food on the list, I think I might have to take a break from writing this article and lurk in the kitchen all night. I would love to hear from you all again in the next column of Gastric Pulse, or you can share your favorite “rainy” food moments in the comments section below!

Photos by the author