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Spice up your life

In my small world — a world of basic needs (running water, decent cellphone signals, and free copies of Pinoy Parazzi) — chili is big.
You got that right: Chili.
Chili makes a mediocre meal good, a good meal perfect.
Whether liquid or solid, chili is the best agreeable companion for every meal, next to a hottie and a cold alcoholic drink.
But then again, that’s just my opinion.
Which explains why I always keep a jar of chili handy — it’s always useful for correcting kitchen emergencies, which fortunately happen rarely owing to the utter lack of trying. However, that’s another story altogether.
Anyway, whenever I go out, I never pass the chance to try the house chili.
And thanks to my limited culinary adventures, I have discovered that the best chili in Metro Manila, perhaps even in the Philippines, isn’t for sale.
It’s for free — you just have to visit Kowloon House along Matalino Street in Quezon City to enjoy it.
To do so, you first have to pick something off the establishment’s menu, which is posted right up above the kitchen that also serves as the counter for orders.
And there, my friend, lies the rub.
Ordering food at that Kowloon branch is more difficult than getting the attention of a government worker five minutes before his/her coffee break.
Just this Saturday, I dropped by, relishing past, pleasant thoughts of Kowloon’s beef mami, consisting of tasty meat chunks so large and rich that if you eat them everyday for the next two years, you’d either suffer from a heart attack or choke to death.
My reverie about beef mami was interrupted when I was ignored a couple of times by the servers.
Had I been younger, I would have raised holy hell, demanding that I be waited on hand and foot, just like any regular asshole.
But times were now different.
Besides being older — and supposedly less assholish — I was wearing a tattered T-shirt that had more holes than the ozone layer.
In short, I looked like an old, loserish fogey in the making that deserved to be ignored.
Only until I sat down and grew a foot-long beard did a waitress take notice.
When my order arrived — a bowl of beef mami and a can of Coke — I asked for some chili.
Just like my supper, my request for chili was faciliated at a pace slightly faster than the speed of a three-legged turtle.
The chili was consumed the minute it arrived because the serving was no bigger than my thumbnail.
Partnered with a chunk of beef, it was delicious.
But taken individually, the chili was a meal in itself, giving off a melange of flavors — strong hints of garlic, pepper, and a sweet fruit which I can’t quite place (pineapple?).
After I consumed it in one go, I asked for some more.
However, the establishment refused to be generous, giving me the second serving in just about the same quantity.
I finished my meal and nearly licked the chili off the sauce plate it was served in.
And as I settled the bill, I discovered that I learned another lesson — or at least I think I did — from this whole experience of chili cutbacks: The best things in life may be free but sometimes you just can’t get enough of them.
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From the Digital Imaging Dept. Cropped photo shows Sophie Monk in an advertisement for PETA. Thanks, Zimbio.com.

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