I grew up a fat boy, I still kind of have a big stomach. Maybe after a while you get used to people calling you fat, like I did.
I guess it doesn’t bother me much now since I know why my body is like this, maybe it’s genetic, or I just love good food. Then again, it’s not exactly good food; people still tell me to slow down on all the fast food I consume. Whatever it was, eating was definitely my first hobby.
Last June 13-17, the Manila Food and Beverages Exposition (Mafbex) was held at the World Trade Center. This year, it was hosted by De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, and guests from premier culinary schools in the Metro were invited.
Upon entering the venue, one was awed by the sight of various food and culinary stores and their items ready for you to sample and purchase.
Food heaven best described what took place at Mafbex, but then this wasn’t just about eating. Students from the culinary schools joined all the competitions. A cake-decorating contest was a heated battle. While winning was certainly one incentive, students appreciated interacting with each other and watching how their peers did their thing in the kitchen.
The fun started, of course, in the different food stalls, with their gimmicks to get people to try their products. Some attracted customers with the sheer size of their space and the huge pictures of their product, others brought in tables and chairs for patrons who were both hungry and tired. Still, others used bright lights and loud music to draw the curious in. Seeing all this would have made even the skinniest supermodel salivate.
For someone like me who’s usually satisfied with a regular cheeseburger and fries, I found myself torn between the foods to try. I tried going for shawarma since I was still hung up on some superhero movie in which the said food was mentioned repeatedly until the characters eventually ended up eating them. But going for shawarma may be one of the best—and worst—ideas to do in Mafbex. Given the number of people selling the product, you wouldn’t know which to choose. I salute those who sold shawarma yet still got a lot of people to eat it; that only meant they had a catchy way of attracting customers.
It was not just about the shawarma, of course. Besides coming across food stores I never even heard of, it was an eye-opener to see how various authentic cuisines were sold at very affordable prices. The food tasted incredible, but even just looking at it made me appreciate the work that went into a simple dish.
It wasn’t humanly possible to have tasted all the food at Mafbex. An overwhelming experience, it reminded me of the times when one answered, “kahit saan” whenever friends ask where we should eat. That answer wasn’t applicable here.
Eventually, I was won over by the price and smell of a pasta and the Bicol Express. Never mind my odd combination, or the origins of the dishes. It was simply me enjoying good food and the thought of being privileged to eat more than three meals a day.
Seeing how people work so hard to give us a new point of view on eating and drinking made me see how love is the best ingredient of all.
Photos by Francis Allen del Rosario
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