Warning: Strange delicacies ahead
I am pretty sure that you’ve heard this line whether you’re living in a gated Subdivision in Laguna, Makati, or in the busy inner streets of Tondo. This line is best said in the most typical Filipino way possible. The so-called ‘sing-song’ tone.
If ever you catch a guy shouting this, you will see him carrying a basket full of eggs and a bunch of small plastic bags hanging around the basket. These eggs are called balut. A local delicacy where they boil a ducks egg and…(Wait a minute, I am not writing this for a recipe article!)
How it is…not how it’s made.
Let’s cut through the fire and flames! You can browse a lot of webpages and see how balut is made and how they started, but I am here to talk about how AWESOME it is and how AWESOME it can be.
This is a normal ‘Manong’ selling Balut. (Minus the stereotypical sack hat they wear albeit day or night).
The long walk begins…
Typically, they start their prep during the late afternoon, and make sure that the eggs they’re going to sell are hot. Not warm, but piping hot. The long stride from outside their doorstep is the probably the hardest to take, because the next step right after that is going to take them miles away from their home.
They storm through the busiest of streets and the scariest of places just to get their message across that they’re selling some good ol’ duck eggs. Imagine roaming around at night, on foot, while shouting. This long, dreary tread from one shady stretch of street to another gloomy corner is definitely not a cake-walk.
Once they get a hold of a potential buyer, they pause. No,they do not sit down. They just stop and prepare your balut eggs, place the egg inside a medium-sized newspaper-like bag along with a pinch of salt and another small plastic bag of some home-brewed vinegar. Speaking of vinegar, this is basically the only thing that separates your local ‘Manong Balut’ from our resident ‘Manong Balut’. They do not use the same generic vinegar you see on the supermarket or grocery stores.
These special concoctions are custom made. It’s been battle tested, technologically verified, cryogenically enhanced with garlic, ginger, onions, chilis and pepper; fermented for a certain amount of time, enough to get that right ‘sting’ on your throat as the small duck embryo slides down your gullet to match that fire in your belly.
More complex than you know.
With all that’s happening in between, have you ever tried engaging a conversation with your local ‘Manong Balut’? Asked them how their day was? Probed how many eggs have they sold? Inquired how do they do this job every single day; the prep, the walk, the talk, the sale, the wrap? It’s an art form at its best. The way they position the eggs inside that paper bag without messing the folds. The technique they use to grab a pinch of salt knowing how much is enough for you not to get kidney stones. The method they hold their baskets on their shoulders avoiding too much strain while walking. These are awesome traits.
We all know the nutritional value of a Balut. They contain niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine that help metabolize energy. The small amount of 188 calories and an enormous amount of calcium and iron can definitely give you the short jolt of energy you need to get through that grueling 8-hour shift. Talk about an alternative to those poisonous energy drinks eh?
It’s easy to make a difference.
It’s not just that, the minor amount of coins from your pocket can definitely help out our awesome ‘Manongs’ who trek and traverse the wild urban jungle just to give you a more nutritious substitute to your energy drinks. They serve as an inspiration or function as a small nudge on your back saying, ‘Hey, I can help you but in return you need to extend your hand a little bit as well to grab hold of that quick opportunity to make a small difference in someone’s life.’
The ever-so tiresome routine of life encompasses all of us,even if you are just a small blip on the radar. Now, wouldn’t it be great to try some balut tonight? If only they had a delivery service… Now that would be REAL PINOY eh?