November 20, 2004 was a cold day. Raining since morning what with a typhoon lashing the eastern part of Luzon. I hardly got any cooking done with the work still going on in the new kitchen. Meanwhile, the old kitchen has been totally demolished. The old cooking range is somewhere between the living room area and where the old kitchen used to be. While waiting for the paint of the new kitchen cabinets to dry, we have dish racks, cooking pans, ovenware and all sorts of bottles and jars on the book shelves, on the living room floor, on the dining table… in short, it’s a total mess. Definitely not a good subject for photography.
Anyway, I was so pressed for time to prepare lunch that I decided to make some fried rice out of cold cooked rice (from last night), hotdogs, salami and eggs. Just enough for my daughters. I figured I’d have a sandwich. Then I got so engrossed with deleting trackback spam in The Sassy Lawyer’s Journal that I forgot I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. Until I heard a youthful male voice calling from the street out front: ”Baluuuttt, penooooyyy…“ I got up, grabbed some bills from the desk and called after the little vendors.
Scorching hot balut (hardboiled duck eggs with a partially developed 16- to 18-day old duck embryo inside) and penoy (an infertile incubated duck egg or with dead embryo) for a mid-afternoon snack for my then 12-year-old daughter (her sister was taking a nap) and a late lunch for me. You can see the partially developed duck embryo covered in egg white in the balut photo (left). I cracked the shell before taking the photo to be able to identify the parts. The veins are visible from the interior of the shell. The yolk is divided by the white which contains the embryo. The round part at the bottom is what we call bato (rock), a hard white inedible part of the balut.
This penoy is what we used to call penoy na may sabaw (literally, soupy penoy) when we were kids because, unlike ordinary harboiled eggs, this kind of penoy is more like custard. In some instances, such as the one in the photo, the center has the consistency of the yolk of a hard-boiled egg while around it is the custard-like part. According to the young vendor, it is (now) called higupin, literally, for sipping.
Are balut and penoy traditionally sold by young vendors? No, balut and penoy vendors come in all shapes, sizes and ages. And, sometimes, they have more than eggs in their baskets.