Pinakbet has long been one of my favorite words, along with ramekin and clafouti. Someday I’m going to throw a dinner party involving all three, and maybe some of my newer favorites like the Indonesian pulang (to go home) and meninabobokan (to sing a lullaby).
In all the years I’ve loved pinakbet, I’ve never actually tasted it. But I knew it was from the Philippines — more precisely, as Wikipedia tells us, it is a northern Filipino stew generally featuring bitter melon, eggplant, tomato, ginger, okra, beans and chilis — so I was looking forward to getting my hands on some during my trip to Manila.
During the first couple of days I asked around for it but didn’t find any. Finally, on my last night, I ran across it in a mall food court. I was skeptical, having eaten a lot of mediocre Indonesian food in Indonesian food courts, but there weren’t going to be any other chances.
And indeed, this pinakbet turned out to be suspiciously mediocre. It was kind of bland and mushy and I didn’t detect any bitter melon in it. Some hot sauce and vinegar perked it up a bit, but I remain convinced that the pinakbet of my dreams is still out there somewhere.