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British Man loves Pancit Molo : An Ilonggo Favorite

Every now and then I have the chance to taste a Filipino delicacy called Pancit Molo.  I must admit, I have earned a liking for it since way back 24 years ago when I started attending a Filipino church in the south of London.

Among the attendees of the church was Ate Virgie.  She was a lady from Bacolod who really cooked very well.  Every now and then during church occasions, she would bring Pancit Molo as her contribution to the potluck dinner.

That's where I was smitten.

Pancit Molo is a staple in various lunches and dinners in Negros or Iloilo wherein it is served as the indispensable prelude to a full Ilonggo/Negrense meal.  The variation of each Pancit Molo recipe comes from the degree of how garlicky the soup is, or the thickness of the wonton wrapper which somehow lends to the consistency of the soup (whether watery or sticky).

That's for taste.  For its description, Pancit Molo's uniqueness lies in the fact that Pancit Molo runs contrary to its name - containing no noodles at all despite the reference to pancit. What it has is chicken in a garlicky broth with pork and shrimp dumplings in wonton wrappers folded to resemble nun's headdresses.

A friend of mine who is an Ilonggo relates to me that he remembers a time in the year 2000 when TV news personality Daphne Oseña capped the news on Studio 23 with a segment called Video Postcard.  Daphne would go around the Philippines and give a 5 minute overview of the place and its peculiarities.  At one particular point in time, Daphne visited Molo, Iloilo in search of the restaurant with the best Pancit Molo.  Molo, Iloilo after all is the place where this popular soup emanated from.  Did she find it?  No.

My friend sent sent Daphne an email to explain why that was so.  And so the story goes that at the turn of the century when the families in Iloilo migrated east to Negros Island to establish their fortunes in sugarcane, these families brought along with them their entire household entourage including the chief cook - and the treasured pancit molo recipe.

To this day, ask any Negrense where you can find the best pancit molo.  Nine out of ten, you will be pointed to a family household who serves great pancit molo in their dining room as cooked by their family kusinera (cook).  Seldom, if not at all, will you be pointed to a restaurant.

Oh boy, now I'm getting hungry.

Malcolm Conlan talks about why he wants to visit Negros Island in 2015.

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