The traditional dish in Mountain Province is bland. It is bereft of spices except for salt. Meat dishes are usually boiled. Cooking is simple, food is either boiled, roasted and that’s all. Without much influence from the outside world and the place not having been under Spanish rule, cooking in this part of the world relies on the natural taste of the food. When we say natural taste it is about eating chicken and you savoring the real taste of chicken without the spices and sauces that masks the real taste. A must try for the adventurous foodie is the “pinikpikan”. The dish is about chicken-beaten with a steak (while alive) to try to mix in the blood. From the head to the wings to the feet- the chicken is slowly beaten to death. Pinkikpikan is culled from the word pikpik which means to pat. After the chicken dies from the stick beating, the feathers are then burnt over a fire. A pot is filled with water and left to boil, salted meat is cut into pieces and added, the chicken is also cut into pieces and thrown into the pot. The salted meat provides the salty taste of the broth. It’s all pure chicken and pork. You will like the rice cake cooked in its wrapper-banana leaves called patupat or the sweet grounded peanut filling in a rice cake called linapet. You will be lucky to share in a meal with a family in homes near rice terraces or villages. You will get to taste rice grown by the family- most fragrant and pure, you don’t need another dish to have a filling meal. Food in Mountain Province may not be a chef’s dream recipe but freshness and food closest to its natural taste is what you get.
Today’s modern influences however is changing the dining fare of the locals. Lettuce that is grown by farmers who are advocates of organic farming provides the salad base for the locals who are getting an acquired taste of vegetables not native to the area but can grow in Mountain Province because of its temperate clime.
In Sagada, get to taste their lemon pie or yogurt. In Bontoc, go for coffee and pancakes at the Bontoc Market (2nd level) or Gold Fish Cafe at Poblacion, just ask the locals where it is and get coffee as good as the one you get at Starbucks. The Department of Trade and Industry is aggressively promoting Arabica coffee among local farmers. Craving for pizza, try Caja’s or Pizzeria- ask about these Pizza outlets when in Bontoc.