(Adobo by La Seda Hotel Davao City)
Someone wrote that adobo is of French origin, which I think may have some truth to it, considering that braising the protein in vinegar, soy sauce, and spices is peculiar to this Filipino dish. This chemical process of braising the protein, be it pork, chicken, or beef, has the effect of infusing the color, taste, and the spice on the meat and magically appetizes the foodie's palate. This is similar to how braising meat in wine does the trick. Whenever I travel around the country for work and I see the adobo on the menu, it is, hands down, my chosen meal. Some of the more memorable ones is the adobo I order from a hotel in Pagadian City, which, although a little bland, is full of aroma because of the bell peppers they mix in it. Pamana Restaurant in Tagaytay serves it three ways of which what stands out is the one braised in coconut milk. Coconut adds the sweet coco flavor that is a Bicolano staple. By far the tastiest adobo I have eaten is the one they serve in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, which is made from the meat of farm rats. I told my wife, Celeste, to credit the culinary genius of the people from Cabiao to cook adobo rats. They removed the hairy skin, chopped off the head, tail, and legs so what remained are little drumsticks no different from the drumsticks we derive from small gaming birds. I asked them if there was any other way to serve farm rats, and the people I met in Cabiao said the adobo way is the only way, as it removes the stench of the meat completely. Cooking adobo rats not only puts food on the table, it also eliminates the pests. The Cabiao folks have turned the problem of pestilence into a feast. How much more Filipino can they get? Perhaps, Albert Camus's The Plague may have ended differently if the French author casted somebody from Cabiao to turn all those pests into an exotic culinary dish as adobo rats. It hits the existentialist school in the gut. If such were the case, then there is more compelling reason to say that adobo is French.