Saturday, September 3, 2011


To become a foodie, one must have a passion for anything that is edible. A foodie must be prepared to appease his gustatory needs, and journey the ends of the city for culinary delights never sold anywhere.

These are qualities I hardly possess. Given my intense discipline to assert form into my sagging frame, eating to my heart's content was a pursuit I followed only at home. Starving myself, on the other hand, has always been my religion.

My body is already used to the punishment.

But something has changed before the past year was over. Baabaa came and his taste buds are eager to venture into places where food is plenty. Eager to share treasured moments with my partner, we went out, dined in, checked out restaurants featured in the blogs and sampled gourmet food whenever our budget would allow us.

Food has become our shared delight.

Banchetto was already a household name when Baabaa and I decided to leave the confines of Makati to the uncharted realms of Ortigas. It was past midnight, I recall, and the entire stretch of Emerald Avenue was packed with hungry mouths rushing to their "lunch breaks" from the call centers dotting the smoky, slobbery strip.

It didn't take long for us to modify the linings of our stomachs. There's a wide selection of dishes being offered at the stalls. There were pastas in different shapes and servings. Rice meals with fancy viands were laid out on the tables, and rich cakes and pastries as far as the eye could see sweeten the greasy atmosphere with their appetizing colors.

Baabaa and I helped ourselves engorging a large burger with patties as big as a small plate. To damp the lingering beefy aftertaste in his mouth with anything sweet, my partner bought a mango crepe which he shared with me while taking a stroll around Ortigas.

Meanwhile, the crowd at Emerald Avenue began to thin as stuffed patrons quietly lumbered towards their workstations.

Uno Burgers

Looking back, the Banchetto experience was regarded with less weight than the other dinner dates I had with my partner. The thought may have stemmed from the fact that it was a rushed trip, or the Al Fresco dining at the sidewalk was less romantic than sitting on a chair and staring at each other while waiting for your meal to arrive. It is only now, after overhearing the word Banchetto from a gym mate did the memory stream again.

Banchetto has a different feel from the more formal and ordinary eat outs we had. As the thought begins to return, I remember munching my burger while Baabaa happily tried to pass as a conyo who bragged in front of others about his BMW parked at the bend. I recall sharing my thoughts about the other food bloggers, wondering if they were in the vicinity that Friday evening. But most of all, Banchetto is cherished not for the sensual, diabetic, and cholesterol-laden food it offers, but for the thought of inviting my partner out and telling him it was my treat. The previous ones were all Dutch.

It was the first time he allowed me to foot his bill.

Pops by Summer

Heeding to the pangs of hunger, I decided to return and reclaim a memory I thought I had lost. The Banchetto we once knew had moved elsewhere. Now tucked in an obscure parking lot right next to a stadium, whose infamy is tied with the scored of starving masses trampled in a stampede, its faded glory is imprinted on the faces of those who stayed behind.

The kiosks, the grills and the ready to eat meals remain, and so are the handful of pilgrims eager to experience the tastes of the food market. Gone are the foodies, with their sophisticated DLSRs in tow. It was them who raved about the midnight feasts in Ortigas, but now they are nowhere to be found. The pervading smell of food being grilled, fried, or sometimes being baked is still there, but the spirit, which makes the Banchetto stand out has long disappeared.  

After taking some snapshots, and savor for the last time the tastes and flavors of Banchetto, a special longganisa empanada and a dice of carrot cake tried to fill my cravings. Of all the mouth-watering offerings laid on the table, I picked something with a regional flavor only to learn halfway through that the pastry has no taste.  

Some things would never be the same.

Losing my appetite, I left the parking lot and went home with a tummy still empty.