Food is one of the things we look for when we are in a place that is new to us.
Tourists value their travel experiences, not only for the destinations, but also for the discovery of the gastronomy experience as well.
In fact, food tourism is already a big movement, especially after the pandemic.
It gave people the chance to discover and innovate food products that bring satisfaction to the cravings of people.
But, for some, traditional foods will never be out of their choices.
Ilocos Region, as old as you can imagine, known not only for its century-old churches, pristine beaches, and majestic falls, but also offers a well-defined culinary and unique food experience with a wide array of gastronomic offerings.
In Pangasinan , for example, when one goes to this place, the other would say "Iyawidannak to iti puto Calasiao wenno longganisa iti Alaminos (Bring me puto Calasiao or longganisa Alaminos when you come home), referring to these products as a 'pasalubong' or take home products.
Puto, a small circle-shaped steamed rice cake, made with only three ingredients which include rice, water and sugar, is continuously gaining its popularity in the country as it continues to expand with its increasing demand over decades.
It started to boom in the hands of Mr. Rodulfo dela Cruz, owner of Bella’s Calasiao Special Puto in barangay Dinalaoan, Riverside, Calasiao Pangasinan.
From 600 pieces per day before, his business now produces 50,000 pieces a day, which proves that the product is well-loved by people.
Another unique delicacy of Pangasinan is the “patupat,” a local delicacy made with sticky rice and fresh tuba juice as its sweetener, wrapped in weaved buri leaves and being sold by the bunches at the highway of Barangay San Aurelio 1st in Balungao.
Balungao is also known for their chevon or goat industry, which offers a lot of innovative dishes made out of this meat.
In Arnedo, Bolinao, they also offer a sticky rice delicacy called "binungey".
It is soaked in coconut extract, steamed in bamboo over fire on the ground.
It is best served with coco jam and for some, they also add mango to give extra flavorings.
When we say Bolinao, tourist would not miss the chance to visit the famous Sungayan Grill or the Sungayan Floating Restaurant that offers a river cruise boodle dining with a variety of seafood dishes, while traversing the Balingasay River, a two-time awardee for the Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran Award for inland bodies of water in the Ilocos region.
Another well-known product of Pangasinan is the Alaminos longganisa, the local sausage of the city.
It is made with ground lean and fat pork, pepper, salt, vinegar, brown sugar and annatto or achuete for its natural orange color.
Its packaging is also what makes the longganisa unique, for they use little bamboo sticks to close the endings of the longganisa.
As Pangasinan is known for its wide array of farming industry as it is their main source of living, the province also offers farm tours.
Tourists can visit the Our Farm Republic, an integrated diversified organic farm in Mangatarem; and the Pakwan (watermelon) Farm and Salt Farm in Bani.
These farms contribute to the agricultural success of the province.
As proof of continuous development in Pangasinan, another industry is making a name in the province, and that is the JNS Aqua Farm in Bayaoas, Urbiztondo, Pangasinan.
It is engaged with fingerlings production, grow out, and processing.
The farm has already over a million catfish on the pond, which gave the owner the idea of putting up a food processing plant to maximize its consumption.
The JNS Aqua Farm is now offering preserved products in a bottle with different flavors like adobo and Spanish, and packed products like shanghai, sisig, smoked tinapa, and crispy hito.
Indeed, Pangasinan is rich in culinary heritage and abundant in fresh food resources.
It is interesting to note that this province keeps a culturally distinct culinary heritage, and that the traditional foods, even its preparations, are not disappearing in the midst of modernization in the food system. (JCR/AMB/KDM/PIA Region 1)