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Region IX (Zamboanga Peninsula): Balbakwa


Image from thenourishedcaveman.com


The greatest gift the Spanish – or anyone, really – gave us Filipinos is food. It can stand the test of time and unite people. And among these precious and delicious gifts can be sampled along the roads in Zamboanga.

From the humble PUV drivers waiting for passengers to wealthy families on a pit stop from a road trip, everyone can agree to forget about these trivial details when sitting down to enjoy a hot bowl of balbakwa/balbacua. Judgement is thrown out the window with each slurp of the rich thick soup that coats the tongue in a warm embrace; everyone becomes carefree as they nibble on the bones with a bit of sweat rolling down their temples.

Made with beef skin, tail, and even parts of the face, boiled over extremely long periods until the meat, tendons, and ligaments are so soft that it disintegrates onto your tongue with the sauce reduced and thickened with all that beefy goodness.

Staying true to the origin of its name that was derived from the word “barbacoa,” which refers to the meat with high fat and how it is cooked slowly until tender (or the underground oven they use to cook it slowly). Taking into account that this dish has evolved so much – from the Caribbean, to Mexico, until the Spanish brought it to us – don’t you think it’s a dish worth traveling for?

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