It has recently been said to me that I should know I've been in the Philippines long enough to be in-part Philippine-ized because while eating I'm a part of the conversation, if not it's initiator, about food.
On our trip to Iloilo in May, Edson warned me that his aunts would do this, and they did. While eating breakfast they were talking about what would be nice as a late morning snack.
During the snack, where to go for lunch.
During lunch, where to get dessert.
During dessert, where to go for coffee.
During coffee, where to go for merienda.
During merienda, where to go for dinner.
During dinner, where to go for dessert.
Our conversations in Manila go a bit further. We compare foods, we reminisce about the good meals or bad meals or the times we had during those meals.
Lately it has been about chicken.
Edson, like the vast majority of Filipinos, loves fried chicken. And we live at Fried Chicken Central.
Within a block's walk we have KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken, for those who remember what the acronym means), Tropical Hut, McDonald's (Yes, Americans, Mickie D's serves fried chicken in the Philippines), Max's, and Jollibee.
Everyone is always curious as to whether I prefer the food from the Filipino fast-food franchises or the American. That depends on what menu item we are speaking of, in this case, chicken.
One night last week Edson, our friends Kit, Inaki (Sorry, still can't figure out how to type a tilde here), Marje, and myself were talking about chicken over coffee. (See, I told you!)
Because the coffee shop was next door to Jollibee (In the Convergys building with all the call center workers busy helping OnStar motorists in trouble above us), their Chickenjoy was mentioned.
Chickenjoy, it is believed, is the favored fried chicken dish of the Philippines.
This is only a belief.
I have tried the chicken at all of the above-mentioned establishments and ironically found McDonald's to be most to my liking. KFC is a close second. Followed by Max's and Tropical Hut. There was chicken, but no joy, in my Chickenjoy sampling.
It was universally agreed upon that today's Jollibee Chickenjoy is inferior to the chicken offerings of the others.
Tropical Hut's came in low because it was dry. Jollibee's came in last because it had no taste.
No taste? Fried chicken with no taste?!
Amazing, but true. The rice (Yes, fried chicken is served with rice here. Everywhere. I know, it's weird. The Colonel is rolling in his grave thinking about it.) had more flavor! Of course, this makes Chickenjoy the perfect dish to serve to someone with a bad cold, since they can't taste anything anyway!
All the others recalled how once upon a time they had loved Chickenjoy, but had since switched, mostly to KFC and McDonald's. They felt quality has been slipping at Jollibee for several years.
Even an informal on-line survey I came across found twelve out of seventeen respondents preferred KFC over Chickenjoy.
This does not bode well for Jollibee, the only fast food franchise that dominates McDonald's in any market anywhere on earth.
Regarding other menu items, Jollibee does have a yummy fried peach mango pie; its only drawback being its teensy-tiny size. I did love their Aloha Burger (despite all the fillers), recently purged from their menu.
And this is what we talk about over coffee....fascinating, isn't it?