Scrounging for Steak in Dumaguete?
The Expat’s Burden1
Many of us spend 50% of our time bitching about the stuff we can’t get in the Philippines. We another 50% of our time contriving schemes to discover, procure and secure our favorite things without breaking the bank. It’s good sport, and there’s nothing better than locally sourcing something you thought impossible to acquire short of air cargo or crazy shipping fees.
If you are like me, you are consumed with replicating the best things from “back home” here in the Philippines. You compulsively stalk the expat sections of Lee Plaza, Robinson’s (the mall grocery, not the downtown Robinson’s), or Hypermart. I cruise all three. All lack anything resembling a decent steak.
Those fine merchants defer to the fresh market for meat, fresh veggies and fruits. The fresh market here is a tasty font of fish, home to a flock of local yard bird vendors, and (if you can stomach it) a surfeit of swine. If you aren’t getting fresh produce, fish and tasty buko juice here; you are missing out.
So a solution presents itself, “Why not do without beef? Just substitute.” The expat home chef is a past master of scrounging for things like saffron, goats milk, fresh cilantro (when it’s in stock at Lee Plaza, you better grab that shit), etc. But substitute a pork shoulder for a juicy steak? Smells like defeat to me.
Belcris is ubiquitous throughout the Philippines, but you may not know about it since they are a commercial supplier of imported meat, massive cheese logs and vats of olive oil. Much of what they offer is industrial-sized. It pays to drop in periodically and when you find something that suits your pallet, stock up.
1After Kipling’s poem, The White Man’s Burden, The United States and the Philippine Islands, written to exhort the United States upon it’s recent induction to the colonial nations club. It’s hard to read without thinking it must be satire with it’s embedded ideas of benevolent racism. Enjoy the full text below. It goes well with steak and a nice cabernet. Read more at Wikipedia here.
Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.
Take up the White Man’s burden, In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit, And work another’s gain.
Take up the White Man’s burden, The savage wars of peace—
Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly Bring all your hopes to nought.
Take up the White Man’s burden, No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper, The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter, The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living, And mark them with your dead.
Take up the White Man’s burden And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard—
The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:—
“Why brought he us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?”
Take up the White Man’s burden, Ye dare not stoop to less—
Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper, By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples Shall weigh your gods and you.
Take up the White Man’s burden, Have done with childish days—
The lightly proferred laurel, The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood, through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom, The judgment of your peers!