Laoag City’s Tina Tan, one of the country’s top lifestyle bloggers, wrote in her blauearth.com, wholeheartedly I hope, that I could also be a good food blogger. Yes, I love food and I love blogging, but I’d rather write about sweet stories in a society gone sour, or bring out the spice in a phenomenon that at the surface seems bland, or sprinkle a dash of salt on agents of tastelessness.
But, this time, just this time, in the spirit of Tina Tan, who is once again a contender in this year’s Philippine Blog Awards, let me write about food. And allow me to present one that Madame Tina (she doesn’t enjoy being called this way; says she is not a fortuneteller) has not written about.
It is the best crispy dinardaraan (dinuguan) in my universe. And it is to be found neither in the famous Dawang’s in San Nicolas, arguably one of the most expensive carinderias in the country, or at the top-rated La Preciosa Fine Dining Restaurant in Laoag.
Ironically, it is located almost in front of the Iglesia ni Cristo Church along Rizal St. in Laoag City, and is adjacent to Partas Bus Trans. To the uninformed, they don’t eat animal blood. (I am referring to members of the Church, not the bus drivers.)
The dinardaraan’s meat is as crispy as it could get and is very tasty because it is laden with fried internal organs sliced thinly. I saw there some pork bara (lungs) which is okay with me because smoking, I’m sure, is not one of a pig’s vices. The timpla is swak na swak (an observation shared by MMSU’s Kat Aguilar who I asked to taste test), and the aroma, oh-so-tempting.
Okay, I must admit it is not a healthy food. Blood is one of the riches sources of bad cholesterol. Moreover, internal organs provide you with uric acid overload. But one must always strike a balance between quality and quantity. What for is a long life without sinful pleasures? On the other hand, what for is an orgasmic life if you’re gone too soon for a second round? Even my mom, 69, who suffers from diabetes, indulges in dinardaraan. “Sagpaminsan met lang (just once in a while),” she reasons out. My dad, 74, is a blood eater, too.
One serving of crispy dinardaraan costs only twenty pesos. You have the option to have the budget meal of rice, pancit, dinuguan, and hi-bol soup—all these for just twenty pesos, too. If you intend to have it ‘on the go,’ ask that the blood not be mixed with the meat yet. The crispy tidbits will be in one plastic, the chocolate-y liquid in another.
Unfortunately, the gustatory wonder is sold out after only thirty minutes to an hour. It is ready to be served at 6:30 in the morning and is fully consumed by perspiring patrons by 7:30, or even at 7:00 on busy days. The carinderia, frequented by many tricycle drivers, is open only until around 8:00.
I asked Manang Marlyn (Anacleto), the owner, why they could not prepare more. The main reason she cited was the lack of capital. A secondary reason is the lack of available supply of pork kalabkab, the dish’s main ingredient.
They also serve hi-bol (meat soup with pansit) and tinuno (roast pork). Sometimes there is bopis and igado, too, but the crispy dinardaraan is the real bestseller.
On the side, I am happy to observe how this family is so closely knit. Manang Marlyn and Mang Primo’s five children—Alvin, Alwyn, Pea (pronounced as (Pe-ya), Albert, and Arjay take turns in serving customers, washing dishes, and in tidying the place, their home’s backyard. Their Lola Benita, who, in true Ilocana fashion, prefers to smoke with the lighted part of the tobacco inside her mouth, is also around to help out.
If you intend to heed this newbie food blogger’s advice and want to make sure there’s a serving of this bloody goodness waiting for you, try to contact Pea at 09303630656.
Yum yum. Burp burp.