The dishes in Taloctoc several years ago when I was a kid (now, don’t ask me the exact number of years, lol) are totally different from those of today.
Dishes then were fresh and simple. What you can taste is the genuine quiddity of the food being cooked.
Take for example fish; fish which we caught with our barehands from the Chico river, were not mixed with any ingredient which could mask the taste. They were simply wrapped in banana leaves, placed in small bamboo poles and then cooked over slow fire. This brings out the real taste of the fish.
If you are able to taste this, I know you would agree that nothing could beat the savory taste of a pure, unadulterated fish dish.
Luscious, green leafy vegetables which we plucked from our nearby gardens were just cooked in boiling water. The broth that comes out from the freshly harvested vegetable dish tasted like no other.
Nowadays, the broth from a vegetable dish are so full of condiments, you could not really savor the vegetable flavor in it.
There were rare times that the old folks wanted something fancy; they would add then a little coconut oil or coconut milk to the dish and sprinkled it with pepper. That tasted like a "blast"!
Native folks often said: “Mampiya, impon agammo de amam.” (It’s delicious; you could forget your father-in-law.)
I have watched also how men butchered pigs and cows, cut them into pieces (I didn’t see it gross at that time) and just boil them until they were tender. No salt, no condiments, nothing whatsoever – just plain water. And, my! It was one of the best tasting meat dish I have ever tasted; natural, pure and savory.
At times during summer, the men went monkey or deer hunting. This is in preparation for the rainy days. They cut the meat into small, thin slices and allow them to dry under the sun. This will make the meat, dry and preserved.
When rainy days came, all they did was to cook the meat until tender and then mix vegetables, or sometimes they just roast it. Even then, the natural taste of the meat was still intact.
What was amazing was that, no one ever got sick of cancer. It was most probably because what of people ate. The dishes that were cooked came directly from nature without any preservatives or food colorings added. These preservatives and additives have been proven to have ill effects on people, so be wary of what you eat.
I miss these Kalinga dishes. Perhaps, in the near future when I can find time, I would visit Taloctoc and once again catch my fish in the river and cook it in the riverbank with my bamboo poles!