Dinuguan and the World

I’ve had dinuguan in my childhood and as years progressed, I’ve liked it even more because of its exoticness and extreme rarity overseas. Living overseas for years, every time I’m in Manila I always look for it. It’s the feeling of scarcity that makes me want and crave for it.

I researched about the history of the dish but nobody can tell exactly how it evolved or how they invented the dish in the Philippines, but out of logic, it was created to make use of the remaining parts of meat that were not usually selected by the aristocrats. It was a poor man’s food, made of pork blood and the internal organs of the pig. Adding vinegar, I thought, had two functions: First, it was added to help preserve the food for longer periods cause refrigeration wasn’t invented at that time; Second, to avoid the blood from clotting. Filipinos would eat it with puto (steamed rice cake) or rice, and it’s filling.

Researching further, using an animal’s blood in a dish is not unique to the rest of the world. There’s a similar dish in Poland, they call it Czernina. Another dish is the ancient Spartan dish, melas zomos (μέλας ζωμός). According to legend, a man from Sybaris, a city in southern Italy infamous for its luxury and gluttony (which gave rise to the word sybarite), after tasting the Spartans’ black soup remarked with disgust, “Now I know why the Spartans do not fear death”. In another story, it is said that Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, for the sake of this bought a slave who had been a Spartan cook, and ordered him to prepare the broth for him, sparing no expense; but when the king tasted it he spat it out in disgust; whereupon the cook said, “Your Majesty, it is necessary to have exercised in the Spartan manner, and to have bathed in the Eurotas, in order to relish this broth.” No recipe for the Spartan black soup has survived, but blood soups are still eaten in various countries today in Italy, France and Serbia

After several teasing from my boyfriend who made dinuguan out of the congealed pork blood he acquired from Chinatown in New York, my competitive streak was a bit too much to handle. I’ve decided it’s time to go to the nearest wet market and find pork’s blood to make dinuguan.

I must say my first try is pretty good. On my next try, I’ll try adding crispy meat and intestines to make it more delicious and exotic. Thanks to the lovely folks at Cartimar Wet market for being very accommodating and giving me the pork blood for free! Check out my video in Instagram and for the recipe, click here.

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