Manila Bulletin

Eat’s about time & ran­dom bites: Our new ab­nor­mal (XVIII)

- PHILIP CU UNJIENG Makati City · Taguig City · Facebook · Department of Education

1) In the Eat of the Mo­ment

If there’s an in­dus­try hard hit by the COVID virus and com­mu­nity quar­an­tines, it would be the restau­rant in­dus­try. Food in it­self is still a main­stay of our con­sump­tion pat­terns, so those who of­fer de­liv­er­ies and take-outs have found ways to sur­vive and/or stay rel­e­vant – es­pe­cially when, since early on, these busi­nesses were home-based and on­line. But the grim re­al­i­ties of run­ning food out­lets, eater­ies, and restau­rants; with the op­er­a­tional costs of monthly over­heads, rentals, and staffing be­came oner­ous bur­dens for their own­ers. Many have had to bit­terly ac­cept clo­sures or sur­ren­der to ac­qui­si­tion, rather than fac­ing the con­tin­u­ous drain on their re­sources.

Big restau­rant chains had longer ropes to cling to and sur­vive; but at the rate it’s go­ing, it may mean the in­evitable fall will just be a heav­ier one. Some ar­eas that thrived like crazy be­fore the pan­demic, such as Pobla­cion in Makati, are strug­gling to keep their heads above wa­ter – and it doesn’t help that more than one es­tab­lish­ment there was fined just ear­lier this month for not fol­low­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing pro­to­cols. Those few stub­born ap­ples will put the oth­ers who are com­ply­ing in dan­ger of be­ing shut down again, should some out­break be traced to that area.

For a num­ber of restau­rants that are stand-alone or sit­u­ated at malls, I’ve no­ticed how hav­ing al fresco ta­bles, are prov­ing to be pop­u­lar – fu­eled, I’m cer­tain, by the no­tion that be­ing in an open-air set­ting will al­ways be safer than din­ing within the con­fines of an air-con­di­tioned in­te­rior… At Black­bird, for ex­am­ple, the out­side ta­bles dur­ing Sun­day lunch are al­ways in great de­mand. At the malls, the food es­tab­lish­ments have banded to­gether, such as RestoPH, to form a uni­fied voice in airing con­cerns, so­lu­tions, col­lab­o­rat­ing with the malls, and help­ing each other.

Mer­cato at BGC’s 7th Av­enue re­opened yes­ter­day; and it should be in­ter­est­ing to see the health and safety pro­to­cols be­ing zeal­ously fol­lowed by the or­ga­niz­ers, stake­hold­ers, and their pa­trons. I’m cer­tain the news that Mer­cato has re­opened will be wel­comed by the rank and file of BGC, who have tra­di­tion­ally been lim­ited in terms of week­end din­ing op­tions, and re­garded Mer­cato as one of their most pop­u­lar go-to’s. The Mer­cato vi­sion and ad­vo­cacy has al­ways been about act­ing as an in­cu­ba­tor for food star­tups and food-re­lated SME’s to thrive. The var­i­ous stall-hold­ers will be col­lec­tively breath­ing a sigh of re­lief that the Task Force Safe City Taguig have given the green light for Mer­cato’s re­open­ing.

As for the photo I’ve picked to be part of my col­umn to­day, it comes from FB, and I loved it for show­cas­ing the Filipino’s in­de­fati­ga­ble ca­pac­ity for min­ing hu­mor out of any sit­u­a­tion, no mat­ter how dire or un­set­tling. I was laugh­ing by my­self, won­der­ing if the food was to be in­serted up your nose and in­haled – just so it stays in theme with the “Swab Taste.” I have no idea where this photo was taken or the ven­dors be­hind the stall; but if any ad­ver­tis­ing com­pany is on the look­out for a mar­ket­ing ge­nius, a savvy word­smith, or an imag­i­na­tive con­cep­tu­al­izer, they can do the re­search and now know where to head­hunt.

While many of us are still ap­pre­hen­sive about ven­tur­ing out; if there is some fa­vorite eatery or resto you’ve been pin­ing for or dream­ing about, NOW is the time to show your sup­port. So many of them are hang­ing on by the skin of their teeth. Whether or­der­ing for de­liv­ery, for take-out, or phys­i­cally din­ing in be­cause their safety pro­to­cols are in place, these es­tab­lish­ments badly need our pa­tron­age. Oth­er­wise, they’ll be a ca­su­alty of this pan­demic, rel­e­gated to “What hap­pened to so-and-so restau­rant? I loved their... (in­sert your fa­vorite dish here). I have so many good mem­o­ries of din­ing there.”

2) L Is for Rab­bit

Will some­body please con­firm that our Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion Learn­ing mod­ules truly have such colos­sal edit­ing blun­ders as "L Is for Rab­bit," that a pic­ture of an Owl is cap­tioned Ostrich, and that a slide ask­ing stu­dents to iden­tify the col­ors of a box of crayons is in vivid, rain­bow-hued Black & White? Com­ing from the arena of con­tent cre­ation, I can un­der­stand that in­evitably, some over­sights can and will hap­pen in the proof­read­ing and edit­ing stage of any mas­sive work.

Quite of­ten, I’ll read nov­els from big and rep­utable pub­lish­ing houses abroad, and stum­ble across a mis­spelled word, or a miss­ing punc­tu­a­tion mark. Hu­man er­ror is an in­escapable fact of life, and I’m so ready to for­give and for­get. But “L Is for Rab­bit” has got to take some tro­phy in a top­sy­turvy, tipsy uni­verse of Mis­takes We’ll Never Live Down. I al­most spat out my bite of break­fast, and my stom­ach hurt from laugh­ing, when I read about those edit­ing “faux pas.” If it turns out to be fake news, can I just say here that I vote to live in a fake world where this re­ally hap­pened? Too funny!

 ??  ?? Safest COVID-eatery in the world. All dishes are guar­an­teed tested and tasted.
Safest COVID-eatery in the world. All dishes are guar­an­teed tested and tasted.
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