Tuesday, February 07, 2006

So Sari

There was a Sari-sari store not far from where I was staying in Angeles City, PI that had the most excellent pork skewers.  They were grilled to order (while in Korea and the Philippines the main rule I had regarding dining is that I saw the food being cooked) and dipped in an extraordinarily hot barbeque sauce.  The store itself was basically a counter under a tin roof with a grill out front; the main amenities were fluorescent lighting and a jukebox.  This was the ideal place, that and they had San Miguel beer for what amounted to 20¢ a bottle.  This is as close to heaven as I think folks will ever come.

One quick word about San Miguel.  While in the PI it was the drink of choice, and was great beer, especially for the price.  The other main choice was Red Horse, more like malt liquor and it seemed no two bottles were quite the same in alcohol content or taste.  I liked San Miguel so much that when I got back to Korea I ordered some and found out that either it doesn’t travel well or someone was bottling goat piss in old San Miguel bottles.  I tried it again in Spain, same result – goat piss, though marginally better than the local Spanish beer.  So when you dash out and buy some San Miguel at Joe’s Liquor don’t blame me when you find the beer tastes like water from a roadside ditch.

Anyway, back to the Sari-sari.  There I was filled to the gills with San Miguel (the good stuff) and had to take a leak. Most countries in that region you are more than welcome to improvise, but I didn’t want to do the Ugly American thing, so I asked about a bathroom.  I was pointed in the direction of a there was a cement block structure out back of the store, three walls and roofless with the bottom part of a toilet and a barrel of water, ostensible for flushing since the tank part of the toilet wasn’t present for duty.  The yard looked like a petting zoo gone terribly wrong – it was the restaurant’s stock room (in more ways than one) in that many of the dishes featured on the grill out front where on the hoof back here.  The biggest baddest resident of that zoo was smack dab in the middle of the doorway of the whizzateria. In that door way was the largest turkey I had ever seen, and he didn’t look happy to see me.  The turkey was huge – that bears repeating.  I was busily searching my San Miguel addled brain for turkey lore to decide if I was going to have a problem with this big boy or not.  The call of nature soon overpowered my sense of danger and I finally decided to bluff the bird despite any threat it might pose (did I mention how big this sucker was?).  Mr. Turkey was, as the old adage goes, as scared of me as I of him and decided to heave off and fight again another day, if turkeys do indeed fight.  I heartily thanked the turkey gods for forgetting to bless their charges with any kind of brains and went about my business. I resolved to research turkeys more thoroughly – I could only remember geese putting up a fight and being very mean, but nothing about turkey, other than they taste pretty good.  Unwritten rule of nature – if you taste good, life is short.

It only took about three of four more San Miguels to forget the incident and move on to a turkey free life.   The next time I visited my arch nemesis wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Leading me to believe the unwritten rule mentioned above was applies in the Philippines too.