Bar chow

Drinking beer or liquor is less fun without munching on finger food in between gabs and gulps. Filipino drinking buddies call their snack pulutan, which is anything but soup.

Among the traditional bar chow is tokwa’t baboy (pork with tofu), chicharon (pork rind), chicharon bulaklak (deep fried pork mesentery), kilawin (raw fish marinated in vinegar), crispy pata (deep fried pork leg), sisig (chopped pork jowl, cheeks and ears), fried chicken, grilled stuffed squid or milkfish, fried dilis (anchovies), and papaitan (stewed cow or goat innards).

The more affordable street foods and chips are also fitting pulutan for low-budget drinking sessions. Fish or squid balls, isaw (chicken intestines) and prawn-flavored crackers can be bought from ambulant vendors in the neighborhood.

There is also non-traditional pulutan that has become favorites of contemporary drinkers. Such bar chow include french fries, dynamite cheese, kikiam, fried or grilled pla-pla, crispy fried shrimps, siomai and raw oyster.

Any food that drinkers like can actually serve as pulutan. There is one unique bar chow though that only one person can eat.

The special pulutan of Roselino “Baroy” Ingis of Sultan Kudarat is hotter than the red chili-spiced sisig or kilawin and as crunchy as crackers or chicharon.

Ingis’ pulutan consists of flaming pieces of wood, and the video showing him eating it without burning his mouth, tongue and throat was recently featured on the TV news 24 Oras. The only catch to Ingis’ flaming pulutan is that it tastes like charcoal.

The ember-eater said he learned the fiery stunt when he was 16 years old, according to the report.

Head and neck surgeon Dr. Dominador Garduno III, meanwhile, warned against imitating Ingis to avoid getting seriously burned.

Upon the plea of his mother, Ingis said he promised not to eat flaming wood anymore. It’s better and safer to continue his less dangerous vice of drinking and eating real bar chow.

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