Of Birthday Blowouts and Long Life Noodles

Thursday, April 16, 2009 69 comments

Pancit Bihon: long noodles for long life


Me, L and Ate
One of my sisters celebrated a birthday last week and once again, I was the odd girl out. You see, my three sisters live within a few miles of each other in Redondo Beach, CA which means they can share all the important family events together while I, tucked away in the Midwest, am relegated to participating ex post facto through e-mails and phone calls. 
Baby sister, future blogger
And so it was last week, when Ate [pronounced AH-teh, meaning 'older sister' in Tagalog] was joined by the other two siblings, their respective spouses and children to help her celebrate another year while I had to settle for reading about it a few days later when our youngest sister wrote an account for her eco-lifestyle blog, neena creates. 

Of course, I was terribly disappointed to have missed such a special time for family bonding but what really burned my candle was missing a marvelous restaurant meal, courtesy of Ate and her requisite Birthday Blowout.

You may already be familiar with this term, which is often used to describe any over-the-top celebration, but for many Filipinos, it is nothing less than a social obligation. In an unspoken yet clearly understood custom, a birthday celebrant is expected to treat family and friends to a fantastic feast, preferably at a nice (i.e. expensive) restaurant - hence 'blowout', a cheeky acknowledgment that the final bill could obliterate the sponsor's bank account. It's great for the guests but something of a raw deal for the person who should be pampered, not pauperized, on their special day. So why is it an accepted tradition? 

Since much of the information I've found about the Pinoy-style blowout is mostly anecdotal and factually hazy, I can only offer a thesis based on my own observations: that it is an adaptation of long-standing traditions in response to increased urban living and wider dispersal of family members.

Come One, Come All!
Tita (Aunt) Vicki preparing lechon
The cornerstones of virtually all Filipino celebrations are family and food, and in this culture, there is an abundance of both. The super-extended familial system means that every relative within a day's travel is either involved in the planning of a party or must be invited to attend, no matter how distant the blood tie. By sharing in the preparation and by participating in the festivities, family members reiterate deep bonds, particularly across generations and between branches of the family tree. 

However, such gatherings are not limited only to blood relations or very close friends; often, professional colleagues and their families are invited as well. The non-kin social network is nearly as important to Filipinos as the one into which they were born:
"While individuals rely on immediate relatives for support and mutual benefit, they do not hesitate to enter into social relationships with non-kin, who may be physically more accessible or able to offer better professional service or economic benefits."
(Roces, 58)
It may seem like nothing more than a transparent ploy to curry favor by inviting your boss to your child's first birthday party. But this compadre system - adopted from the Catholic baptismal ritual of compadrazco, or co-parenthood (Roces, 48) - is an integral and fully-accepted means of extending the entire family's support network and adding to its prestige.

It also means that there are even more appetites to satisfy at a party! I can vouch from personal experience that for Filipinos, food is the primary measure of hospitality and there's no such thing as serving too much. No self-respecting host would risk hiya [hee-YAH], or social shame, by setting a sparse table or running out of food. In fact, it is customary to have enough party fare to wrap up and send home with guests (pabaon). This is not some underhanded strategy to get rid of leftovers but rather an honored tradition symbolizing the spirit of sharing the resources of community and family (Roces, 81).

Back to the Blowout
So, how does all of this relate to the birthday blowout? In recent decades, the Philippines has experienced good economic growth and greater participation on the global stage. This has spurred many young Filipinos to leave their communities for job opportunities in larger cities and, increasingly, other countries [according to 2007 census data, there were 1.75 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), of whom 55% were 35 years old or younger]. While this does not mean that the close kinship system has broken down, it does make it more difficult for many to participate in the family occasions that also serve to reinforce close bonds.

 Modern Manila: can old traditions adapt?

As a result, the non-kin system of friends and colleagues becomes the primary support network and old traditions are modified in response to social changes. Instead of the extended family coming together to organize and celebrate a birthday, the blowout allows the celebrant who is far from home to provide the commensality so intrinsic to maintaining social ties. Restaurants have taken the place of relatives to help prepare the feast and the choice of a higher-priced venue may signal the level of hospitality in the same way copious amounts of food do back in the family home. Finally, it is by no means considered 'unfair' that the birthday celebrator foots the entire bill - after all, one of the essential foundations of family and non-kin relationships is the idea of reciprocity. The generous person who shares their good fortune with others in the present can expect to be a recipient in the future.

Just as a family celebration is a small-scale version of a community-wide fiesta in which all members share resources and revelry, the birthday blowout has emerged as the micro-scale model of the same. By adapting to the realities of modern society, the spirit of an important Filipino cultural tradition is preserved and continues to help solidify critical social bonds.

Work Cited:
Roces, Alfredo and Grace. Culture Shock! Philippines: a Guide to Customs and Etiquette (3rd edition, 1992). [Link provided is for the 2002 edition]


Pancit Bihon (pan-SIT BEE-hawn)
Although we missed out on Ate's birthday blowout, Mr. Noodle and I celebrated big sister's special day with another important and delicious tradition adopted from Chinese food symbolism - 'long life' noodles! They are absolutely imperative for a Filipino birthday meal and as long as the noodles are uncut during both preparation and consumption, they can be anything from one of the myriad kinds of Filipino pancit to a noodle dish from another Asian cuisine to a serving of Italian long pasta. I chose to stay Pinoy and made Pancit Bihon, the classic stir-fry of thin rice noodles, vegetables, and meat seasoned with onion, garlic, soy sauce, and citrus. 


Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 (8 oz) package of bihon (rice vermicelli noodles)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp lemongrass, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, slivered
1 1/2 cups cabbage, shredded thinly*
1/2 cup carrots, julienned or shredded thinly*
1.5 - 2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or sliced
2 links Chinese sausage, sliced**
Soy sauce
Patis [Filipino fish sauce, a.k.a nuoc mam (Vietnamese), nam pla (Thai)]
2 - 3 cups chicken broth

*For the dish pictured here, I used pre-shredded broccoli slaw!
**Update 4/20/09: dried Chinese sweet sausages are called 'lop cheong' - thanks for the info, Phyllis at me_hungry!

Garnish:
lemon or lime wedges (if you can find it, try calamansi!)
Scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

To make:

In advance:
  • Soak rice noodles in enough cool water to cover for about 20 minutes to soften. Do not use hot water or soak for too long - the noodles will be cooked in broth later and may become mushy before they absorb the broth's flavor.
  • Rehydrate the Chinese sausages by gently simmering in a small pan of water for 10-15 minutes, turning occasionally. When done, cut into thin slices and set aside.

In a wok:
1. Heat canola oil and add onion, garlic, lemongrass and ginger; stir fry until onions are soft and translucent, being careful not to brown them;
2. Add cabbage and carrots and continue to stir fry until vegetables begin to soften;
3. Add soy sauce by tablespoons and patis by teaspoons, to taste;
4. Transfer vegetables to a bowl or platter, and set aside;
5. Drain softened noodles and immediately transfer to the wok; add one cup of chicken broth and bring to a gentle simmer, allowing the noodles to absorb the broth.
6. Stir occasionally to ensure that the noodles do not stick to the bottom. Do not cover or stir too much as this may result in mushiness! 
7. Continue to add chicken broth by the cup, allowing noodles to full absorb the liquid between each addition***, until desired consistency is reached. The noodles should be cooked through but still firm to the bite;
8. Reduce heat to low and add cooked vegetables, shredded chicken and sliced sausages to the noodles and gently toss to mix. Add soy sauce and patis if needed;
9. Turn off heat and transfer noodles to a large platter; garnish with lemon wedges and scallions. Serve immediately.

***Update 4/20/09: at the end of cooking, there should be NO broth or liquid left, which is why it should be added a cup at a time and be completely absorbed. This way, leftover noodles can be enjoyed later without the noodles becoming mushy. Thanks, Gastroanthropologist, for the query!

Happy Birthday, Ate!

69 comments:

  • Chef E said...

    Oh my that sounds really good! Happy Birthday Ate, and you guys have such cute names!

    I have some friends who are from the Phillipines, and they never had kids, but the just adopted a baby girl and will bring her home, named Rina. She is with her new mothers Philipino family for a few months and Leo and Nona will bring her home! I am so excited to be this new aunt for every ones kids!

  • Bob said...

    Happy Birthday Ate! Thanks for sharing the pronunciation, otherwise I would be saying/thinking "8". :)

    Great recipe, looks wicked tasty. I've been wanting to get some lemongrass, I bet it would be fun to work with.

  • Jenn said...

    I know that feeling. Most of my close family is back in the Philippines, so it's hard for me sometimes as I can't be there with them to celebrate. My aunt in Pinas just celebrated her birthday with a bash full of kapamilya and neighbors and lots of leftovers But But I've had my fair share of the birthday blowout here in the States.

    Staple foods of a birthday blowout: Pancit, lechon and lumpiang shanghai and maybe some melon or sago gulaman. Then whatever else the celebrant wants.

    btw... I want that lechon!! LOL.

  • Elra said...

    Happy birthday to your sister. I know exactly what you mean about living far away from your sister. One of my sister live across the ocean, luckily the other one is here, minute away.

    Oh I like Pancit Bihon, my sister who live overseas normally would make this for us.
    Yours look delicious.
    Cheers,
    elra

  • girlichef said...

    Gorgeous! This pictures reeled me in...your lovely words kept me here. I love to hear about cultures & traditions w/in said culture. Filipino traditions remind me a bit of Mexican traditions here (my hubby's side)...Lots of food, everyone and their neighbor is expected, people wrap everything up when they go home and compadre's are part of the mix, as well. Thanks TN for the learnin'...as usual :)

  • My Carolina Kitchen said...

    Happy Birthday Ate. As many others have said, I really like hearing about foods and traditions of others countries. You do a wonderful job of making us feel like we are there.
    Sounds like one has to save all year to be able to afford the blowout.
    It's wonderful that you and your husband keep these great traditions alive in your home even though you are far away. Celebrations are a wonderful part of life.
    Sam

  • Jennifer said...

    Noodles: did I tell you that I lived there for 2 years when I was little? I have some great memories from there--my most treasured memory of adjusting to school in the US was being told I had to use a fork, not my fingers to eat my noodles. I was annoyed but now I find it humourous-mostly because my mom always told me how the teachers were annoyed but I kept using my fingers anyway.

  • Spryte said...

    Happy Birthday Ate!

    I love hearing your stories! I have to have my daughter start reading your blog. She is very interested in her heritage, but rarely sees the Filipino part of her family.

  • Sippity Sup said...

    This is a facinating bit of cultural information. That just makes me love the human race all the more. Though I am not Filipino, a small group of my friends and I celebrate what we call "reverse birthdays" every year. That means who ever is having a birthday hosts an event for the other 5 and buys presents for them too. It also means we are getting younger, or so we think! GREG

  • The Diva on a Diet said...

    As always, I'm blown away by your post, Noodle. Interesting, informative ... and altogether yummy! I will eat noodles in any and every form and am a great fan of pancit. I just love everything about this dish.

    Wishing Ate a belated, happy birthday!

  • Phyllis said...

    Tangled Noodle, you are such a brilliant writer and storyteller - I wish I could write as well as you. Thank you for sharing the history of the birthday blowout!

    A very happy belated birthday to your sister! The pancit bihon looks delicious - especially the chinese sausage part (lop cheong)!

    Love the old school photos - I have similar pics (black & white, unsmiling, subjects posing rather uncomfortably) in my old family albums!

  • Leela said...

    Oh, I *love* Pancit Bihon! I've never made it myself, though. It's about time.

    That picture of lechon just turned me into a drooling lunatic. Twice now that I've had to remind myself not to read your blog in a public place. Your fault, TN.

  • oysterculture said...

    Awesome post, I love all the details you provide. I heard about the dinner, and I understood you were sorely missed. The dish looks incredible, I love pancit bihon and will have to try it at home. No excuse not to now.

  • Claudia said...

    Hope Ate had the happiest of birthdays. What a grand story of families needing to celebrate together! And the long-life noodles - oh - will try that! Love anthing with noodles.

  • Mediterranean kiwi said...

    i loved the story about your sister's birthday. it also makes me realise how difficult it is to visit relatives when you live on opposite sides of the us. greece is a much smaller country, and athens is in the centre of it, hence, a city person is never too far away from their home village (probably 1.5 hours max. by air)

    i dont need to tell you how delicious the noodles look

    by the way, snail harvesting and fattening, re my last post: http://organicallycooked.blogspot.com/2008/06/snail-harvesting.html

  • Sapuche said...

    It’s hard being so far from one’s family, especially when you’re the ONLY one not living nearby. Double this when there’s a well-publicized blowout you can't attend at an amazing restaurant.

    Interesting how in the West, traditionally, no individual is allowed to go broke for a party thrown for his or her benefit, but a hefty bill is divided into many portions so that people just pay for their share. Still, there’s something to be said for maintaining an age-old tradition like the one your sisters and their families adhere to. From a purely economic standpoint, I guess it’s better if you’re celebrating a birthday with a twin – that way, you’re guaranteed to split the cost 50-50! But probably it’s not that simple. Really, though, you can’t put a price on providing commensality to your social group. After all, how often are people able to get together in such a large, mutually supportive group, have fun, eat well, and solidify social bonds? It sounds like a perfect occasion for a luau to me!

    And finally, your pancit bihon looks and sounds amazing. I’m a huge fan of anything with lemongrass and fish sauce, and I love the inclusion of Chinese sausage!

  • Michele said...

    happy birhtday to your sister. your pancit looks amazing. it brought back so many memories from my childhood too -- thanks for such a great post!

  • lisaiscooking said...

    I'm the odd one out of my family too and hear about things via email and texting. But, the rare occasions when I can join them are always fun. Your noodles look fantastic!

  • Hornsfan said...

    My family is spread over a bit of the States so I can understand the longing to be around on special days....it's tough. I love reading your posts on Filipino culture and traditions, so neat and so obviously family-centric, something we can all benefit from! I'm sorry you missed out on being present for your sisters birthday but your dish appears to have been an excellent celebration and wish for her!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Finally! Spring has sprung in MN so the past couple of days have found me basking in near-forgotten warmth. Thank you for your wonderful comments and birthday wishes to Ate (who has promised me she'll leave a comment to thank everyone herself)!

    Chef E - Thank and congratulations to your friends' on the new addition to the family! She's a lucky little one to have you as an aunti! 8-)

    Bob - I put the pronunciation b/c when I read it back, I could see where 'Ate' looked like '8'! ;-D I've been having fun adding lemongrass to all of my stir-fries recently and I think you'll love the flavor it adds!

    Jenn - The restaurant blowouts are fun but I do miss the standard Pinoy table, especially lechon (it's the one thing I definitely can NOT make but I've got lumpia and pancit covered!)

    5 Star - Thank you! It's such a simple dish to prepare and really lends itself well to variations so please do try it!

    Carolyn - It's a great way to make friends! 8-D Because there aren't that many Filipinos here in the Twin Cities, I haven't come across any cultural pressure to engage in the blowout myself. Whew!

    Elra - Thank you! If you ever have a craving for it, I encourage you to try the recipe - I promise it's really easy!

    Mrs. Lavendula - Thank you so much! Ate did enjoy herself - she's an incredibly generous person and would've treated us to dinner, blowout or not. As for the pancit, I appreciate the comparison but at least if you have a craving for it, you can probably find a place to eat - I have to gather all the ingredients and make it myself. Unfortunately, I can be a lazy girl . . . !

    Sophie - Thank you! Mr. Noodle and I enjoyed it tremendously.

    Girlichef - Filipino and Mexican culture are more intertwined than we can imagine due to our shared history as Spanish colonies (galleon ships sailed back and forth b/w Manila and Acapulco for nearly 250 years). Although they are somewhat different, we have foods like relleno, adobo, menudos, flans, etc. in common! If you enjoy Mexican traditions, then you will love Filipino ones, too! 8-)

    My Carolina Kitchen - Even if it was just one dish, it helps to make me feel closer to my family and my heritage. It's so easy to lose the language and many of the customs when they're not in constant practice but food is always accessible!

    Jennifer - No! That's so great - you'll have to tell me more about it. Eating with one's fingers instead of utensils is very traditional - known as 'kamayan'. I'm impressed - you're a Pinay at heart! 8-)

    Sarah - It is so fascinating and fun to participate in other culture's celebrations. We get see what's similar and what's different from our own. I've lived so long in North America that some Filipino traditions feel new to me now!

    Christine - I think Ate didn't mind at all: she's like a mother hen to her sisters, bros-in-law and the kids. Perhaps I can make it out there in time for another sister's b-day in September . . . !

    Spryte - Oh, I'd be flattered if she found it helpful in connecting to her heritage. But I also know that you prepare Filipino foods which to me is a great anchor for keeping connected!

    SippitySup - I love your 'reverse birthdays'! I can see where your tradition and the blowout changes the focus of the celebration from the individual to the group. In the end, everyone gets to be the host and guest!

    Duo Dishes - Thanks! When it's my birthday, my sisters will probably get together again without me to celebrate! (But I won't be there to foot the bill).

    Diva - Thank you so much! I love a variety of noodles from different cuisines but I always come 'home' to pancit!

    Phyllis - Thank you for you sweet words! And many thanks for the name of the sausage - the package I had only had it in English, French (!) and then Chinese characters!! The closest I came was 'la chang' but I'm glad you've ID'd it. As for the pics, don't we all have these goofy ones? I'm not supersensitive about my age but I think the b&w ones kind of give a clue that I'm 'mature'! 8-D

    Leela - Many apologies! (Although I'm secretly happy that my blog elicits that kind of response!) The recipe is really easy and very versatile - you can use any veg, meat or seasonings you like!

    Mel - The sweet sausage is so delicious with these noodles! I wouldn't use it with thicker wheat ones but it's perfect with rice vermicelli.

    Oysterculture - Definitely no excuse! It's a great, easy recipe that can be changed up in so many ways. I do miss the big family get-togethers like the one we had during Thanksgiving. Hope there'll be an opportunity in the near future to celebrate an occasion again with you and Mr. Oysterculture! 8-)

    Eric - Thanks so much! There are times, though, when I talk or write about food better than I can actually cook it! 8-)

    Chitra - Thank you! She's thrilled about all the well-wishes!

    OPC - Thank you so much! It was fun watching Mr. Noodle trying to eat the uncut noodles but I kept telling him it was for Ate's good health and long life so tried his best! 8-)

    Claudia - She had a wonderful time with the sisters and their families but was pleased that we had the noodles in her honor. It was a great way to 'be together' while being so far apart.

    Mediterranean Kiwi - Thank you! It is a little more difficult here although we are fortunate to be able to visit CA at least once a year. Ironically, even though it's a much, much smaller country, returning to the provinces from Manila is even tougher than going across the US. For instance, my mother's hometown is only 45 minutes by air from the capital city but since flights are very few, most people have to take a land/sea route which can take nearly 24 hours!! At least modern communication has made it easier to stay in touch.

    Thank you as well for the link to harvesting snails - I look forward to reading it!

    Sapuche - Thanks! With regard to the pancit, the Chinese sausages are a must! Their sweet flavor and fatty texture goes so well with the salty smoothness of the noodles. And fish sauce has now become a top seasoning in our household (I thought the hubs might find it too pungent but he's taken to it like, well, fish to water!)

    This is my interpretation of the blowout but I think it really does reflect an adaptation to old ways which is a much better alternative than letting it slowly die out. In a way, this applies to food as well - traditionalists may decry new ingredients, modern cooking methods or the fusion of different cuisines as a threat to 'authenticity' and custom but instead, we should look at these changes as a way of preserving the core, the spirit of the traditional dish, rather than let it disappear from the table.

    Now, did you mention something about a luau? I'm ready for some kalua pig!

    Michele - Thank you! I hope you'll try the recipe - this is great as a vegetarian dish using vegetable broth and 'meaty' ingredients such as tofu or mushrooms. Also, the rice noodles are gluten-free! (Although you might have to check the soy sauce that you use).

    Lisa - I'm grateful that we keep in touch as much as we do but I miss my sisters and often wish we lived closer. (That is, until I hear about some family drama occurring and then I'm rather glad I live further away!) Thank you for your comment - this is one of the first Filipino dishes I learned to make for myself.

    Hornsfan - Thank you! She was pleased to hear about it (I think I'll offer her a trade: when we visit CA, I'll make it for her if she takes us to the restaurant where she and the other sisters celebrated. But I promise I won't make her pay again!) I think I tend to write about family-centric topics because my husband and I have spent most of the past 15 years living far from either of our families. I grew up living with boisterous get-togethers and many of our celebrations now tend to be a bit more calm. I miss the crazy relatives! 8-)

    Netts Nook - Thank you for following! I hope you found some great ingredients at the Thai market!

    Reeni - Thank you! Although we weren't there with the others, Mr. Noodle and I enjoyed her tribute noodles! And I should say that your pasta dishes would be such a big hit in the Philippines! I couldn't believe how hugely popular Italian cuisine has become there. (I think Italian food makes a good claim to being the universal food).

    Gaby - I thank you on her behalf! If you ever want to serve something a bit different, try this out! The veggie and meat combo can be changed up any way you like!

  • Tangled Noodle's Ate said...

    Thank you all for your wonderful birthday wishes! And I'm so glad you relish the posts and recipes that my sister, Tangled Noodle, features on her blog. A little tidbit - while growing up she was the cutely devious daughter and I know my parents secretly laughed and adored every mishief she pulled! Here's wishing you all great food and fun times :)

  • Lori said...

    A great post about cultural practices. I don't know enough about Brazilian culture to say that things are the same or different. However, I can say that what we have witnessed while here seems to echo similarities to what you have explained.

    We notice that when going out to a birthday dinner no one readily picks up the bill for the b-day person. In addition, people often host a birthday party on themselves as opposed to someone throwing them a party as is typically the custom around home for us.

    The recipe sounds great and I love the comment above from your sister. I'm the youngest and my brother's would probably say the same thing about my behaviors being favored. Ha, ha!

  • raquel said...

    happy birthday, ate!

    if i was anywhere near her place, I probably would have dropped by to greet her (and help celebrate, of course!). such is the culture that all i needed to say is that i know you and i probably would have been welcomed with open arms. BUT... that might have been possible only if that happened in the philippines. Here in the US, ate and the family probably would have immediately called the cops, ask for my "credentials", ssn and drivers license and interrogated me to no end. LOL! although when my lola was alive and living in seattle, friends who mention my name and dropped by at their house are always welcomed (with special meals at that!) and i won't know about it until weeks later! and as for that pancit, my mother would insist that they make this dish even if i am a hundred miles away. and of course send me an email with pictures reminding me that i am "getting old". thanks for sharing, TN. love reading your post.

  • nutritiontokitchen said...

    TN - I totally understand your feeling far away, since all of my fam's in CA too and when I can't make a holiday/birthday/bbq, I get to be on a phone call in which I can't hear anything because everyone's shouting and having fun! :(

    On another note, I like your pancit recipe - other ones I've tried are too oily, but yours looks great and I like the addition of lemongrass in it!

  • Natashya said...

    Absolutely delicious!
    I haven't worked with Chinese sausages before, but I am on the lookout for them.
    Wow, birthdays are intense for Pinoy! We just BBQ.. easy peasy.

  • SoCal Pastry Chef said...

    Hey my FLIP sister from far away.
    FLIP = fine looking island people.
    NO worries about not being close (literally) you're celebration is special like everyone else.

    Hey, I'm "really close to RB" and last week the weather wasn't that great (only mid-70s) so maybe they didn't enjoy it. ;)

  • Jacoba said...

    To Ate, from Cape Town in South Africa, our best wishes for a wonderful year ahead. We also have the candle tradition but sadly far too many of us forget the importance of the extended family.

    I have been reading about the attempts by many modern European countries to turn retirement complexes or villages into residential areas where both young and old live together because it doesnt' work to lump people together in artificial, unnatural conditions simply to suit developers and disfunctional families.

    Your family sounds wondeful and your extended family even more so. About the noodles - what is there to say about one of the most sensual, moreish ingredients ever discovered by man? Thanks, once again, for sharing your wonderful cooking and family with us.

  • gastroanthropologist said...

    In Korea we call our older sisters and older brothers the same way, never by first name as a sign of respect. Its interesting to me the way Asian cultures seem to treat their elders differently... Is this good cold? or, do the noodles turn mushy if not eaten right away?

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Hope everyone had a lovely weekend!

    Angie - Thank you! I love Filipino desserts (especially anything made with stickf rice) and the ones with ube are particularly tasty. One of these days, I will try making something with this ingredient!

    Phanitha - Thank you both for your comments and for sharing your award with me!

    Pearl - Birthday noodles are a must! A couple of years ago, we were in Ireland during my b-day; noodles aren't exactly a big part of their cuisine so I ordered fettuccini alfredo in a pub!

    KristiB - Thank you! And thanks for the Foodbuzz Friend request - I'm going there after this to formally accept!

    Ate - You know very well that I was a complete angel and that it was "L" who was the secret mischief-maker! 8-D Hope you enjoyed your virtual noodles!

    Ozge - I'm so happy you enjoyed it! Our relationship with others is such a big part of enjoying food and I love learning about it.

    Lori - It can seem strange when customs are topsy-turvy to what we are used to but they do make some sense. Maybe another way to look at someone paying for a party themselves is that they're doing it to show how appreciative they are to have been born! 8-)

    I swear that she's mistaken - I was perfectly sweet and well-behaved!

    Raquel - You are soooo right! 8-) When we would tell my parents if we were travelling someplace, they would say, "Your cousins (never heard of them) live there! Go visit!" Even though I knew we'd be invited in, I was always to embarrassed to just show up. As for the pancit, I can't imagine a birthday without one - I knew that if my sisters were going to a restaurant, they were likely not to have it so I decided to make sure that Ate got some kind of good luck, even if we were the ones eating it!

    NTK - Isn't that the bummer: you can almost picture them with plates of food and chatting & laughing away. But we do have a lot of fun when we finally get together!

    As for the pancit, this uses just the Tbsp of canola to stir fry the veggies at the start. The Chinese sausages are fatty which is why I use them in small amounts but they pack quite a great flavor! I hope you do try this version!

    Natashya - Oh, I do hope you'll try the Chinese sausages. Phyllis at me_hungry pointed out that they are called 'lop cheong'. As for Pinoy b-days, I admit that it is sometimes easier being in the US - much less pressure! 8-)

    Selba - Thank you! We don't look terribly happy to be photographed, do we? 8-D

    SoCal Pastry Chef - [LOL!] I use FLIP all the time but only because I drop the extra vowels and syllables from sheer laziness! I didn't know that it was such a complimentary acronym. I'll take it! And thanks for cheering me up - after such a miserably cold winter here in MN, I've been so envious of the weather in SoCal!

    Ricardo - Thank you! I wish I could come up with an original variation of it but sometimes, traditional is best!

    Jacoba - Thank you so much for your lovely comments! I grew up in Canada and the US, and despite my parents' best efforts, my sisters and I lost touch with some of our customs. Now, I'm making an effort to rediscover them and can better appreciate their value. In my parents' home back in the Philippines, there are 3 generations and multiple relatives living in the same home. The sense of family is so profound - you never have to ask for help, it is automatically provided. Of course, it also means that your business is everyone's business . . . ! 8-D

    Gastroanthropologist - Not to say that our elders are treated less respectfully here but the deference shown in Asian cultures is definitely more pronounced! A standard greeting for older relatives is "mano", by which you take their hand and bring touch it to your forehead in a bowing motion. When my nieces and nephews started doing it to me, I felt so OLD! 8-P

    As for the noodles, they are definitely great cold! They won't turn mushy, even if reheated in the microwave or oven, provided they are not overcooked at first - which is why I cautioned about over-soaking them. Since there is no 'sauce', the noodles don't absorb any more moisture and should retain their firm texture. if you try it, please let me know what you think!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Joelen - Thanks! Pancit bihon was the first Pinoy dish that I 'mastered'. 8-D [LOL] I'd be surprised if I came across any Filipino who didn't have CA relatives - I bet that there are at least 2nd or 3rd cousins somewhere there!

    Maria - Thank you! The recipe's delicious the way it is but it's also very versatile.

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  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Vincent - Thanks for visiting and for the information! I'll check out you site.

    Jude - Thank you! It had been so long since we'd had lechon that my husband and I hovered around my aunt as she was chopping it up. We must have looked like children with our noses pressed against the candyshop window! 8-)

    Beancounter - Better believe it! I should amend my post to say that nowadays, any Filipino feast is a 'blowout' - not the wallet but waistbands!

  • Daily Spud said...

    Gosh, I'm coming late to this birthday party it seems. Still, by the sounds of it, I won't be allowed to go hungry :)

    The notion of over-catering for events such as these is very familiar to me - in our family at least, you never, ever want to risk running out of food and so you invariably end up sending people home with leftovers and then eating the rest yourself for days on end. I wouldn't have it any other way, though!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Munchkin Mommy - I couldn't imagine not having pancit for a birthday, even if the celebrant is far away! I love bihon, too, but my absolute favorite is pancit palabok/luglug - it's Mr. Noodle's favorite as well and probably what I'll make for his birthday!

    Daily Spud - It's always party-time in the Noodle household! 8-P

    Another reason that Filipinos and Irish are related! I love getting a 'pabaon', especially if it involves a dessert or roast pig or any of the noodle dishes that are ubiquitous in a Pinoy celebration. It's just sharing the delicious wealth!

 

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