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Ilocos’ Fearsome Delight: Papaitan

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By Oliver Oliveros, editor-in-chief

I wear my “adventure hat,” similar to that of intrepid traveler and foodie Anthony Bourdain, when I visit far-flung places, whose geographical locations are actually relative to fleeting points of origin—because I travel a lot for work. The main idea, though, is to try out local culinary specialties in order to experience a bit of the food culture of the place you’re visiting. Sometimes the experience lingers on: a case in point, the Ilocos Region’s (in the Philippines) fearsome papaitan.

Chicago-based gastronome Victor Merano, who’s an advocate for Filipino cuisine, and who blogs at panlasangpinoy.com, best describes the distinctly Ilocano food: “Papaitan is a famous Ilocano soup dish mostly composed of cow or goat innards. The name of this dish was derived from the Filipino word ‘pait,’ which means ‘bitter.’ The bitter taste of this soup comes from the bile. This is a bitter juice extracted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder to aid digest…