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Happy Meal: The Alan Robles version

Tasty callos and brown rice serve as delicious payment for the witty put-down.

Alan Robles is a genius.

And I’m not saying that because he’s the only Filipino lecturer at the Berlin-based International Institute for Journalism. Nor am I saying that because he has a hilarious website ( and has also written articles for Time Magazine, the South China Morning Post, among other foreign publications. [See: International Journalism Institute, Alan Robles]

I am saying that because I am a big, fat liar.

That is of course a joke, something that the nutty professor can very well take.

After all, he has cracked more than a couple at my expense.

He has alleged on various occasions that I have tapeworm (not true) and that I have an IQ of a troglodyte (hey, we have rights too).

Herr Robles has made these allegations on his Twitter account which is followed by more than eight hundred people around the world, including – unfortunately – myself.

So what’s the upside to all this for me?


By playing the court jester, the proverbial George Costanza to his Jerry Seinfeld, the Panchito to his Dolphy, I get to enjoy a unique set of fringe benefits. [See: Panchito, Dolphy]

Besides getting free tips on technology and writing, @hotmanila – that’s his Twitter handle – also shows his other, lesser-known side: that of being a really good cook and a generous host to people that he likes.

I’m still unsure whether I’ve made it to his A-list, which includes media professionals here and abroad and personalities too famous to mention.

But thanks to my natural ability to act like a buffoon, I’ve occasionally hit the big time by being invited to break bread at his place, usually to provide pre- and post-dinner amusements.

As expected, the responsibility involves being at the receiving end witty insults and funny put-downs.

But I don’t mind.

I get free food – and some morsels of knowledge – in exchange.

Take the early Thursday afternoon meal to which I was recently invited.

It started with a glass of Lambrusco, a kind of wine made from Italian grape – except that this was from Australia, my host explained.

He then brought out a bowl of brown rice and a container of callos, the first batch of which “doesn’t satisfy his integrity.”

“You have to understand that this is not a healthy meal,” he said. “This is a happy meal.”

The intestines that he got were all cleaned up, taking out the fat and gristle that could have been used to add flavor while the dish was being prepared.

The main course was prepared using a Le Creuset-branded pot which he bought in Paris. The pot allowed simmering for as long as eight hours on end, he added.

However, he was unable to make full use of it when he prepared “the first batch” of callos, which he only makes during Christmas.

Instead of being cooked for eight hours in the pot for five days, this batch only simmered for two days, he said.

And that, to him, makes for a sub-par batch of the dish.

I looked at him and nodded, pretending that I was more interested in his pre-dinner remarks than, for instance, dinner.

As soon as the lecture was over, I swooped down on the dish, like a vulture on its prey.

Slowly, the natural flavors of ingredients began to emerge – the smoky texture of Spanish sausage, the rich tripe, and the garbanzos, which were cooked separately from the rest of the dish.

In short, the callos was delicious, one of the best I have ever tasted.

And I’m not saying that because the food was free nor because I consider Herr Robles as my friend.

I’m saying that because I am a big, fat liar.


From the Complaints Dept. Sought an email clarification regarding the first draft of this piece from You Know Who. Below is what he had to say:

Nothing to complain about

1. aside from the fact that the correct name is International Institute FOR journalism

2. and that “troglodyte” takes an article

3. and that Lambrusco is an italian grape, but in this case the wine was made in Australia

4. and that I said I wasn’t happy with the callos’ integrity, not mine (I have none)

5. and that the pot’s brand is Le Creuset, which is more famous than the word “doufeu”

6. and that I bought the pot in Paris market district, Les Halles, in an old and famous shop called E. Dehillerin

7. and that I didn’t authorize you to say you’re a big fat liar twice, but who am I to object
other than that nothing to quibble about

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