Ivatan cuisine is as fresh and healthy as it gets. Most visitors would be eager to feast on freshly-caught lobsters and the coconut crabs (called “tatus”) indigenous to the place, but there’s really more beyond these coveted seafoods.
Priced at 600 pesos a kilo (US$15/kg), I can eat those lobsters daily! As it turned out though, there were more of the other dishes which were repeatedly served during our stay in Batanes. Not that I don’t like them, but a little variety could have helped. Like I would have welcomed fish sinigang, calamares and fish kilawin while I was there. 😉
But I do miss the lumot (seaweed) soup, pako (fiddlehead fern) salad, “Venes” or dried gabi (like “laing” but not really) and Uvud balls (minced banana pith cooked with fish flakes and minced pork). The last one seems to be the national dish of Batanes 😉 along with the luñis — the Ivatan adobo cooked in salt rather than vinegar and soy sauce — as they were served in nearly all buffet meals we’ve had during our stay.
When we visited the village of Savidug (named after a tree otherwise called “talisay” elsewhere) in Sabtang Island, our guide pointed out a Kabaya (breadfruit) tree to us. The Kabaya leaves are used as plates and may even be folded to scoop soup! Ingenuity at its best. Makes for a great picnic!
I didn’t see any rice paddies in Batanes. Nor fruit trees other than bananas. For sure, there are sweet potatoes and yam. We were served rice with turmeric, freshly harvested coconuts and the sweetest camote (sweet potato). There aren’t too many dessert choices and while I enjoyed the camote cue and “bukayo”, I’d soon grow tired of it if I had it all too often. For sure, I’d know what to bring the next time I visit Batanes!
(Thank you, Chikie and Pinky for some of the food photos!)