Ilonggos yesterday feasted on the largest ever cooked bowl of Iloilo City's famed La Paz batchoy in a bid for a world record.
Around 1,000 residents and guests flocked to the La Paz District plaza where a giant stainless steel bowl was set up to cook the savory noodle dish.
The bowl measuring two meters in width and one meter in height and custom-made in Cebu City for P180,000 had a capacity of 3,500 liters. The broth alone reached 1,700 liters.
Joel Adrias, vice president for operations of the Deco's Batchoy, the original makers of the dish, said they expected to prepare 1,000-1,200 servings.
Three hundred servings were reserved for street and school children while the rest were served to guests and resident in the jampacked area at the public plaza.
“We are making history,” city tourism officer Ben Jimena told spectators and guests led by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas and Presidential Assistant for Western Visayas Raul Banias.
The dish is made from a mixture of meat broth and yellow noodles topped with slices of pork meat and innards, fried chopped garlic, spring onions, fermented fish paste (guinamos) and crushed pork cracklings (chicharon).
The popular dish which was first prepared in 1938 by Federico Guillergan Sr. inside the La Paz market from a mixture of broth, noodles, beef and pork. The menu later evolved to the present delicacy which has become the city's most popular dish, which is already available in franchise stores in shopping malls nationwide.
Federico Jr., who took over the business from his father, said his father had first jokingly called the dish as “bats” when asked by friends for the name of his concoction. He later added “choy” from the mixed vegetable dish “chopsuey” which became “batchoy.”
The preparation of the dish took almost seven hours from 2:35 a.m. to 7 a.m. and required six cooks.
The cooks used around 200 kilos of ingredients including beef, pork, innards, liver and garlic. The amount of garlic alone reached around 30 kilos, said Adrias.
The formal launching of the record bid started around 10 a.m. followed by the serving of the dish but residents waited for hours observing the preparation of the dish in the giant bowl and later lining up to be part of history.
“I'm excited and happy to be here. I regularly eat batchoy,” said John Christian Labto, 11, a resident of Barangay Gustilo in La Paz who was among the children given free stubs.
Edgar Sia II, Deco's Batchoy owner and president of the Iloilo Convention and Visitors Bureau (ICVB), said they are eyeing to set a world record in the Guinness World Records for the biggest bowl of La Paz Batchoy.
He said they will send videos and documentation to the world record body and seek authentication of the world record bid.
“The La Paz Batchoy has always been identified with Iloilo and Ilonggos so we thought of this activity as part of the Dinagyang festival,” said Sia.
Organized by Deco's Batchoy and the ICVB, the activity is part of this year's celebration of the annual Dinagyang Festival.
The week-long festival culminates on January 24 and 25 with the world famous Ati tribe contest. The festival has been voted several times by tourism officers as the country's best festival.
Tourism regional director Edwin Trompeta said the event is a big boost to Iloilo's tourism industry.
“A visit to Iloilo would not be be complete without eating batchoy,” said Trompeta.
Source: Nestor P. Burgos Jr., The News Today
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