Ask a Filipino what food on a stick means to him. Surely not kebabs but rather pork barbecue, banana-cue, kamote-cue, almost anything grilled like pusit (dried squid), hotdogs and evencorn on the cob. Whether sweet like karyoka (sticky rice balls) or savoury like kwekwek (quail eggs in batter), the list of Filipino street food on a stick is endless.

These are the images that cousins Ariel del Rosario and Roel Canafranca conjured when they brainstormed on an idea of a Filipino food truck in Edmonton’s downtown City Market in 2008. On the Filistix website, the cousins related, “We felt compelled to introduce Filipino inspired street food, the cuisine of our heritage, to the masses.” The food truck offered a variety of barbecues: organic chicken, pork, beef and longganisa with rice and slaw.

Filistix’s early years were tough, as customers often opted for more familiar Western fares. Because it was an uphill battle to keep the business going, the cousins branched out to serving at music festivals and farmers markets.

It was at a food truck festival in 2011 that a love affair between Filistix and the University of Alberta blossomed. Delegates from the university’s food service provider noted the long line-ups at the food truck.

According to the university’s campus paper, The Gateway Online, Filistix was invited to set up shop on campus, once a week in the beginning and then permanently at the Central Academic Building. The next year, they opened a second branch at the university and a new location at the MacEwan University’s downtown campus. Thus started Filistix’s promise to “change the way people perceive food one rice bowl at a time.”

However in July 2018, the university was abuzz with news of Filistix’s impending closure by the university’s food service provider. The reaction on campus was quick and furious, particularly from students and faculty who launched a petition to keep Filistix. The petition garnered over 1,700 signatures in less than a month. Media coverage was widespread. Aside from the university’s campus paper, media outfits like CTV, Global News and Toronto Star covered the story.

By chance, the university’s student union was looking for a tenant for its building basement, which is owned and operated by them.

In an exclusive with Canadian Filipino Net (CFNet), del Rosario shared, “We submitted a proposal and followed the same procedure as any potential vendor is required to do; we are very grateful they accepted our proposal.”

But more than finding a second home, it was the support from the university’s community that left the cousins humbled. “We knew we were a popular vendor on campus but we did not expect the response and support that we received,” del Rosario told CFNet.  “The support was vindication that we were doing the right thing on campus by promoting sustainable lifestyle, bringing Filipino food to the forefront and catering to our customers’ needs.”

There was word on campus that Filistix will be opening a more public location in the heart of Downtown Edmonton. “Our decision to open downtown was made over a year ago,” del Rosario confirmed. The move to the University of Alberta’s student union building put the downtown project momentarily on hold. “But it’s full steam ahead and we hope to be able to open April 1st.”

Filistix was recently featured in a CBC video segment for a showcase of meals prepared in under 30 minutes. The chicken and pork adobo recipe that del Rosario shares with CFNetbelow uses a pressure cooker to show “how a Filipino staple can be prepared easily, quickly and can be enjoyed even by the Canadian palate.”

 AdobongManok at Baboy
(Chicken and Pork Adobo)

Ingredients

(Serves 4-6)

2 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
2 chicken drumsticks, bone in, skin on
1 lb pork belly cut into 1 inch cubes
½ cup white vinegar (or white sugar cane vinegar if available)
¼ cup soy sauce
1 cup water
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp canola oil

 Directions

  1. In a medium size mixing bowl, add vinegar, soy sauce, water, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and sugar. Mix well to dissolve the salt, sugar and meld all the flavours together.
  2. Add chicken and pork to bowl and mix well, ensuring each piece is coated.
  3. Place the chicken and pork in the pressure cooker and spread evenly, then pour the remaining sauce into the vessel. Stir around to ensure an even layer of meat and even distribution of sauce.
  4. Choose the “pressure cook” option and set to high. Set the timer to 15 minutes and activate the unit.
  5. Once the 15 minutes have elapsed, make sure to release the pressure fully before opening the lid.
  6. At this point, the adobo is ready to serve, however you can reduce the sauce to your desired consistency by switching the setting to saute for up to 10 minutes.
  7. Ladle the pork and chicken into a medium size serving bowl and pour the remaining sauce over top. Serve with plenty of steamed rice. Enjoy!

About the Author
Rachel Ramos-Reid started writing for magazines and newspapers when she was still a junior at the University of the Philippines’ Communication degree program majoring in Journalism. She continued to write in a public relations/corporate communications capacity in various private and government offices until moving out of the country in 1997 to work as Programme Officer for the arts and culture branch of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO-SPAFA) in Bangkok, Thailand. At the end of her term, Rachel found herself immigrating to Canada in the year 2000 and again searching for new beginnings. Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the North Island College’s Board of Governors in a part-time capacity.


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