What to Take Home from Tuguegarao City

Boy Scout and Girl Scout were prepared for our Tuguegarao City weekend trip with the LRMDC Team.  We knew finding vegetarian (not to mention Daniel Fast-friendly) food in street-side eateries and even slightly high-end restaurants in Philippine provinces will be mission impossible so we had our bagful of fruits and nuts (two ways) and oranges to keep us alive for two days.

We were right, of course.  Tuguegarao City in the beautiful province of Cagayan is definitely not your vegan travel destination.  We told Ma’am Sheng not to mind us – there had to be bananas and corn we can buy along the way, right?  But because of traditional Filipino hospitality, the Scouts were fed vegetarian food especially prepared for our discomfort-causing eating principles guised as fasting.  (Not really.  We are really in a fast.  But it was easier to say we are fasting that say we are vegetarians.)

What Tuguegarao City lacked in vegetarian food, it made up for in its array of vegetarian pasalubong to bring back to our loved ones left at home.  (Yes, I’m talking about our families… and our office mates who only found out about our top-secret trip through Facebook.)

Here are some of the vegetarian pasalubong options from Tuguegarao City:

  1. Rice and cassava chicharon.  I’m a junk food junkie.  Made with just rice and cassava flours, oil. seasonings, and optional vegetables like malunggay and squash, this is not just vegetarian but gluten-free as well.  I bought both Chicharice and Chicha-rica brands and they’re both so delicious my family finished three packs in one sitting.
  2. Oven-baked peanuts.  Sir Allan, who unfortunately couldn’t join us, made it a point to tell us about the oven-baked peanuts of Tuguegarao City.  I oven-bake my peanuts so I thought there’s nothing really special about this anymore.  But anything to support the local vegetarian food scene.  Plus peanuts are my favorite.
  3. Coffee coconut jam.  Boy Scout loves coffee but since it’s prohibited in our Daniel Fast, I didn’t buy coffee coconut jam, which is one thing I really regret.  It’s also made with nothing else but coffee, coconut milk, and muscovado sugar.  (There’s also plain coconut jam made with coconut milk and muscovado sugar.)  Sweet!
  4. Tablea and cacao balls.  I’m in love with chocolates.  Tablea and cacao balls, made of nothing but cacao, sugar and a bit of oil, can be easily made into hot chocolate or champorado.
  5. Mushroom seasoning and longganisa marinade.  100% pure organic mushroom seasoning and longganisa marinade are ultimate finds for vegetarian cooks at home.  In our case, that’s us – Boy Scout and Girl Scout.  Although they’re not products of Cagayan, I’m totally raving right now so I have to include it.  One of these days I’m going to make my own longganisa and tell you how it tastes.

We bought these at the gem of a pasalubong center along Luna St., Brgy. Ugac, Tuguegarao City called Lighthouse Cooperative’s Pasalubong Store.  There’s also rice puffs, camote, taro and banana chips, agar-agar, jams, coffee, etc.  Actually half the products are vegetarian friendly so there’s a lot to choose from.

What I also love about these vegetarian pasalubong choices is that they’re not made with too many ingredients and almost no artificial components.  Most importantly, they are cheap.  And vegetarian.

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