Comfort food is not the same across the board. Other than personal tastes and likes, the country and the particular region of that country also has a vast influence on Expat Comfort Food in the Philippines.
Now for me, this is a real Happy Meal! Great Northern Beans with Black Forest Ham and Fried Cornbread. Some of my family members and friends back in the States are always amazed that I can readily buy the food products I enjoy in Bacolod City to prepare excellent dishes at home. The Black Forest Ham is available at Aribu Sausages and Cold Cuts, located in the Mandalagan Art District. If the dried Great Northern Beans are not in stock at one of the Bacolod Supermarkets, you can buy the canned beans. The brand is Molinera and sold under the name “White Beans.” Just simmer a couple cans of the Molinera White Beans in a large pot, add the shredded Black Forest Ham and you got it going on! Don’t forget to open the cans and pour the beans into the pot but you know that already!
Getting the cornmeal to make cornbread is a little trickier. Bob’s Deli Grocery on Lacson Street is the only place I have ever found packaged cornmeal in Bacolod City and it is out of stock much more often than in stock. The alternative and much cheaper, is to buy corn in the public market and have the grinder grind it to your specifications. The grinder at Masinlingan Public Market in Bacolod charges P45 per kilo to grind the corn. We often get one texture of cornmeal for making cornbread and one texture to be used in battering fish and meat.
The grind of cornmeal used to turn out these food nuggets, popcorn chicken, is coarser than the cornmeal to make cornbread.
I have been eating and enjoying Filipino Cuisine since 1986. For this expat, some of the dishes are also excellent comfort food.
A variation of Pinakbet is found in almost every Region of the Philippines. Our version includes the vegetables pumpkin/squash, green beans, eggplant, okra, ampalaya/bitter melon, onions and garlic. Sometimes, we add tomato. We always add Barrio Fiesta bagoong or shrimp paste. In this particular dish, we added chicken still on the bone, which is not so common. Mostly, you will see shirmp and/or pork in Pinakbet.
There are a number of homemade soups that I would include among my personal comfort food but that will be another post. I don’t really know what your personal comfort foods are but I think you will find the ingredients to make them in Bacolod City and you may even find them in one of the excellent restaurants in the city.