Ever have one of those days when nothing seems to be going right? I have the perfect solution for that: have a good, satisfying, rib-sticking lunch.
I confess that pancit palabok has long been one of my personal guilty pleasures, one of my sources of edible comfort when the chips are down and things have pretty much gone stark raving mad.
There is just something undeniably soothing about a good-sized dish of thin rice noodles topped with shrimp gravy, poached prawns, bits of savory pork and soft tofu, and a generous snowfall of crushed chicharon on top. Patis isn’t necessary, though; just a tiny squeeze of kalamansi juice over the mixed noodles adds the right touch of tartness, balancing the exquisitely umami vibe of the pancit.
It doesn’t even have to be home-cooked (because we’ve never prepared the dish at home!) or from some posh dive like Via Mare. Even the fast-food version flogged at Jollibee works fine with me on a really bad day, more so if it comes with a good portion of barbecued chicken. Sweet, sticky, and tender, it adds an appealing smoky counterpoint to the savory noodles. You can choose to have it with a small tub of sweet peanut sauce or kalamansi-infused soy. I find both rather unnecessary; this meal is one lily that needs no gilding to be excellent.
I know it’s a seriously mad notion, but when life really gets me down, I also throw in a large box of French fries into my meal. Jollibee fries, in particular, are just perfectly crunchy. Just lightly salted, the taste of the potatoes really stands out. Most people swear by McDonald’s fries, but I find these too soggy and floppy for me. Give me a box of Jolly fries anytime.
I eat my lunch and consider my workload for the rest of the day and think that, while it does look daunting, I’ll manage to get through all of it. After all, I’ve a full belly and a comforted spirit.