Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Large Salt Bread Adventure

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When you travel a lot, there's bound to be a person who feels a bit bad that you are often out of the house. Not in a selfish kind of way but more of the whimsical I-wish-I-could-go-there-too kind of way. In my case, it was my 9 year old nephew who is one of the first people to look at my travel photos. Because he is many years away from being 18, I decided to let him join in one of my trips, some place interesting but not too far from home. It was going to be a place where he could learn more about local food. I called our trip,  "The Large Salt Bread Adventure".

For those not familiar with salt bread or salted bread, it is a traditional Filipino baked roll. It is locally known as Pan de sal and it is usually eaten during breakfast or snacks. It is typically made of yeast, flour, eggs, sugar and salt. One can eat it plain or with filling.  Unfortunately, the salt bread sold in most city bakeries today are small and can hardly fit one's palm.  When you squeeze it a bit, it gives off a quiet whimper before shrinking in size. This is a far cry from the classic Pan de sal that people used to enjoy in the countryside.  Now, if a trip in search of a large, classic salt bread doesn't sound like much of an adventure for a kid, wait till you see where I brought my  nephew:

Why is the roof on the sidewalk?
No, there's nothing wrong with the photo. Things are really upside down!

Bored? Download then  rotate this image or turn the screen upside down! 
I brought my nephew to Pan de Amerikana, the FIRST and ONLY UPSIDE-DOWN Bakery and Restaurant in Southeast Asia. It's located at Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City, Philippines. The bakery's owners take pride in serving 1950's style pan de sal,  one that's larger than the salt bread sold in most stores today.  The bread has wheat and thus tastes better than other pan de sal.

Pan de Amerikana looked so interesting from the outside that my nephew initially refused to get inside. ("I wanna look at the car! I'm not hungry yet.") I had to tell him there were more interesting stuff inside. Take a look at some of them here:

Inverted tables and chairs

Wouldn't it be exciting to play on this piano?

Don't worry, this table ain't falling down.
The bakery and restaurant also has a collection of Land Rover photos as well as some travel photos displayed on its walls (And in case you haven't figured out, the car hanging upside down is a Land Rover with working headlights). The food, however, is not served upside down (which disappointed my nephew who wanted to have an upside down ice cream and an upside down iced tea). So my nephew settled for pan de sal with corned beef, pancit canton (fried noodles with meat and vegetables), and turon (fried banana wrapped in spring roll wrapper) instead. Everything was very tasty and surprisingly cheap. In between bites, I shared with my nephew all he needed to know about pan de sal.

Chow time: (Clockwise) Pan de sal with corned beef, pancit
canton and turon 

I showed my nephew, too, where the pan de sal was baked and made sure that we bought some bread home.  My nephew observed that most of the people bought at least 2 bags of pan de sal. I guess those folks miss the classic pan de sal. 

To conclude our large salt bread adventure, I made sure to take this photo of my nephew:

An upside-down shot at an upside-down restaurant

So if you want your own large salt bread adventure in the city, make sure to head to Pan de Amerikana in Quezon City. Don't confuse it with the Pan de Amerikana branch in Marikina City, that one has a chess theme.

Do you want to see more photos of Pan de Amerikana? Go to my Facebook page.

Have you been to Pan de Amerikana? Tell us how it was like in the comments section!

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