The man explained the choices at the steam table, but hesitated at the second pork dish. “And this one is — I don’t know if I should tell you what it is.” He gave a nervous laugh as he stirred the diced pork in a deep brown sauce.
I was convinced now that it was a rare occurrence that a non-Filipino wandered into his little place, a half restaurant, half Filipino grocery store in Wallingford, CT, called Kayumangi. We assured him it was all right.
I ordered the dish he had been afraid to tell me about, pork in a blood sauce, and he was thrilled, saying, “Wow, you are brave!” There were nods of approval from other customers as well.
My husband and I enjoyed our lunch: two pork dishes, a salted and dried milkfish, and tender little squids, served with white rice.
As we ate, most of the other customers were watching the Filipino television station above our heads, giving me a friendly smile when they caught my eye.
I’ve done a fair amount of traveling and have often been to restaurants that are quite used to a crush of tourists; it can seem like they are putting on a show. Here, 15 miles from my Connecticut home, I experienced an authentic Filipino meal.
#64: Try a new cuisine. 101 things in 1001 days. (33 more to go!)
Update: The next day, I volunteered at the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, so I now have 32 things to go to complete my list.