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Memories of Antone’s

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I grew up in Houston. Anyone who has ever lived in Houston knows about Antone’s po’ boys… They are an institution. You think you’ve had a sub, grinder, torpedo or other sandwich? You ain’t had nothin’ until you’ve eaten an Antone’s Po’ Boy. When God was up there in heaven, playing poker and drinking beer (Yes, God drinks beer: Probably San Miguel), he must have said, I need a sandwich. Now, just any old sandwich isn’t good enough for God. It must be the King of all Sandwiches, Manna from Heaven, and something that you could eat on 24k gold plates while sipping your San Miguel. So, God looked around at His sandwich chefs, and except for Judas, who makes a mean pot of Chili, He had nobody with the culinary skills necessary to make an acceptable repast. So, He saw Mr. Antone in Houston, runnin’his little shop, and He  gave him the following po’ boy commandments:

1. Thou shalt have awesome bread. Thou shalt not use thine communion wafers.

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2. Thou shalt have not one, but two kinds of incredible ham. Thou shalt not have one, but thou shalt have two. Two shalt be the number thou shalt have. (Props to Monty!)

3. Thou shalt havest salami of the Roman type.

4. Thou shalt put forth thine cheese known as provolone.

5. Journey thee to the land of Mayo, and bring forth their luscious sauce.

6. Goeth forth into thine garden, slicest yon cucumbers and season them with vinegar, salt of mine Earth, and dill.

7. Create ye condiment known as chow chow, spreading fame across the land. Ensure that thine delicacy remain in Texas.

And Antone did as God commanded, bringing forth the sandwich known as “The Original Po’ Boy”. And God was Pleased. Amen.

Here’s a link to Antone’s web site, if you are unlucky enough never to have tried their fare.

The thing that sticks with me about Antone’s is the wonderful smell inside their shops… That memory is strong.

What does all of this have to do with the Philippines? Absolutely nothing. Nada. Zip.

Do I have a point?

Yes.

Recently there have been a number of articles on this site, mine included, about costs of products and what it costs to maintain an American lifestyle.

Food is a powerful trigger: I look at Antone’s Po’ Boys the same way that Rebecca looks at dried, dead fish on rice. Pleasant memories. Comfort food. I was jonesin’ for an Antone’s Po’ Boy. Big time. Unfortunately, it is extremely unlikely that they will ever open up a restaurant here. I would estimate the chances as slightly lower than me running for US President on the “Transvestites for Change” platform and actually getting elected.

Imported foods are sometimes very scarce in the Philippines. High quality deli meats and cheeses are not always easy to find, and when you do find them, they are extremely expensive. They are just not common here. So, in order to satisfy my Po’ Boy craving, I went on Yon Quest for the Pinoy Po’ Boy, made by me.

So, where to go? The supermarket chain, ShopWise, opened up a new branch on Commonwealth Avenue. This store has a large section devoted to imported foods, a bakery with acceptable, though not excellent, bread, and… a decent deli, with European and American meats and cheeses. They had everything for my Po’ Boy except Chow Chow (I would just about damn near guarantee that product is not available in the Philippines… Hell! It’s not available all over the United States!).

Wait! My last trip to Houston, I bought a jar of Chow Chow from Antone’s and brought it back! Yessssss!!!!!

So, the quest begins (Costs next to the ingredients):

1. Genoa Salami (140 g @ 1599 P per kg) – 183 P

2. Black Forest Ham (340 g @ 583 P per kg) – 189 P

3. Capicolla Ham (292 g @ 576 P per kg) – 168 P

4. Provolone (196 g @ 1,230 P per kg) – 241 P

5. Small jar dill pickle slices (150g) – 156 P

6. 2 Baguettes (Italian Style) @ 60 P each – 120 P

7. Small jar of mayo – 35 P

Total cost (Makes about 4 Po’ Boys) – 1,092 Pesos (US$24.82, or $6.21 per sandwich, MADE AT HOME).

The point about blowing through money very quickly while trying to maintain a US lifestyle cannot be more bluntly stated: These same ingredients in the States would have cost about 1/4 of the cost here (Note that the quantities purchased are not huge amounts). This isn’t something I do every day, nor even frequently: Just once in a while. I spent $24 on sandwiches. In my book, pretty expensive.

And, for those asking, “What is Chow Chow?”. It is a type of sweet relish, unique to Texas and some other parts of the South, made from cabbage, peppers, and sometimes tomato or carrots, that is sort of spicy and sweet. It is actually the secret to the perfect Po’ Boy, and Antone’s bottles it and sells it. What you have without it is just a sub… With it, the real thing (Cost of Chow Chow was not included, since I didn’t buy it here… About $2 in the States.)

JohnM

John Miele is a Citizen of the World, having spent time in many locations around the globe. Currently, he finds himself in Manila, but travels throughout the Philippines. John joined the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine in mid-2008.

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Dan
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Dan

Wow! Now thats eating heavy! No Chips? Looks great..

Paul Thompson
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Paul Thompson

Hey Neal; I was stationed in Newport RI back in the 70’s, got my first Tattoo at Sailor Don’s on the square. I’m from Boston/Cape Cod, pretty far from it, at that. I used to sit at the Sari-Sari drinking San Magoo beer here in Olongapo City years ago, and every time I wanted ice for my warm beer, the lady would shout “Juhn” and this kid would disappear and return with one glass of ice. One day I suggested that she get a cooler and keep ice at her store. She looked at me like I was evil and… Read more »

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Dan: Ate too much and gave myself a belly ache… No room for chips!

hudson
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hudson

Hey John,
That looks so good. This is one of my fears about moving to the Philippines, I won’t be able to get home food. Sure there are plenty of Filipino dishes that I like, but what if I get that urge to make a run for the border and I need a taco fix in Bukidnon??

Mindanao Bob
Guest

Hi raiderdave – With $2300 you should be able to live a nice life with your girlfriend. You can live in Davao nicely on that amount.

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Hudson: On most things, you can find the ingredients to make it yourself, but sometimes they are at a steep price.

Tyleen
Guest
Tyleen

Hi John
Do you want me to into my mothers recipe book for her Chow Chow recipe so you can make your own?
I remember hers as being very yummy and everyone stood in line for her chow chow gifts.
When in doubt …make your own.!!!
Tyleen

BOB G
Guest
BOB G

I am not trying to start a argument BOB just stateing the facts. In this day and time just say BIBLE and everyone gets excited. I am just stating what GODS word says. Do you not believe Matthew chapter 24 BOB. Is ok to talk about brands of beer but just mention GOD and you are in trouble. Whatever happened to IN GOD WE TRUST? Why don't you read Matthew chapter 24 and tell me what you think sir?

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Tyleen: Thank you… The main issue was that the Filipinos who tried the Chow Chow didn’t really like it, so I’d end up having to eat it all myself (Can’t make just one jar). Not really sure why they didn’t care for it since it is similar to sweet relish.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Hi John – Baguettes? Bread? Whazzat? Is that something like pandesal? Ham? That’s like lechon baboy, right? Pickles? There’s something stirring in my memory on that one, but whazzat? 😯

I swear that I’ve heard of these things before, but I just can’t place when and where. Did someone mention them in an article before?

We’ll be taking a vacation to the USA later this year. Maybe I can ask a market vendor there for help. 😉

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Paul: Yep, I would think that those things are tough to find up in Laoag… Maybe at the new mall, but outside of there?

Dave Starr
Guest

Good article, John. And very much on point. (by the way, you have now made the urge to visit the “Big Easy” again even stronger .. becuase if we ever go back there my wife and I will have our first meal there at Central Grocery for their top quality Muffuletta , another ‘real thing’ you will never get here in the Philippines. So many foreigners and even a few Balikbayan toss around statements like, “Living in the province is so much cheaper”, or “Living in the NCR costs so much more” and so on, without really considering the implications… Read more »

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Dave: Central Grocery! Absolutely deadly! You could probably come close, but getting the bread would be tough here… Unless you bake it yourself. I’m really thinking of building a pugon out back to give it a try.

As you point out… Costs are based on lifestyle. For fruits, I’ve noticed that grapes get sort of pricey here (not native, don’t last long), but Juanito loves them, so we buy a small bunch for him. They were over 300 P per kg at the market last time.

PaulK
Member

Hi Dave – Unless it was 100% Kona from the 50th State, I wouldn’t take U.S. coffee if it was being given away by the barrell – bean or ground! 😀 Up here, we have Barako coffee from Batangas (whole bean or ground) and Cordillera coffee from the mountains (whole bean or ground) and enjoy both to the point of 8 cups each morning. Even more interesting is that it is much cheaper than those cans o’ cr@p from the USA! Come on up and live a little with a freshly brewed pot of Philippine coffee. You’ll give up your… Read more »

Neal in RI
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Neal in RI

Paul
Just for you I will have a “Sam Adams” with my next cup of “Chowda” as we dont get SanMagoo here in RI.

The Olongapo City days, been there done that but the massive amounts of MaryJane and SanMagoo clouds the memories. Gotta love the smell of shit river on a hangover.

Paul-T
Guest
Paul-T

Paul;
I’m not as hard on U.S. coffee brands as you are, but I will grant you that some mighty fine coffee is grown here and I snatch it up when I find it.

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Paul: Head up to Cagayan and you can get it right off the tree.

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Paul: Funny how everyone still goes for nescafe!

Paul-T
Guest
Paul-T

John;
My wife has drunk that dishwater called Instant Coffee her entire life, until one day she was out of her instant, and had a cup of my brewed coffee. That’s all she’ll drink now. Did I forget to say “Damn that sandwich looks good!”

Gary
Guest
Gary

I’m calling my cousins in Houston today and ask why they never took me to Antone’s! Maybe they don’t really like me ;(

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Gary: Gotta make the pilgrimage!

MindanaoBob
Guest

They look good, John… but as I told you on the phone the other day…. you have to go to New Orleans for a “real” po boy! 😉

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Bob: Still think it wouldn’t be too hard to fashion your own shrimp or oyster po boys locally. Remoulade is easy to make, corn meal is available… A decent baguette? You make due with what is there.

Could be an interesting restaurant idea… Filipinos eat fish sandwiches… Not just for expats!

Dale Head
Guest
Dale Head

Hi John, Your articles are one of my favorites and now I no why because you are from Texas. I’m about 250 + miles north of Houston in Hood Co. between Granbury and Stephenville. I have never been to Antone’s but pretty sure I have heard about it. I am a big fan of Subway and Quizoe’s in my area and eat at least 3 Subways a week. After hearing you describe Antone’s Sub and viewing their web site I will sure try to go there the next time I’m in Houston. I see they have two locations but only… Read more »

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Dale: Thank you! Subway is here, but there aren’t thoudands of outlets. I’ve seen them in a couple of the malls. Subs aren’t really a local taste here, so they may struggle (I don’t know).

Next time you are down in Houston, get an original and a real root beer!

Dale Head
Guest
Dale Head

OK John I’ll do that the next time I’m down that way. And by the way you made me hungry for chow chow and so I had to buy some when I was at the store today grocery shopping. And at least I know that there will be some Subway stores in the Ph. when I make it over there.

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

dale: Really makes a difference on the sub!

Paul-T
Guest
Paul-T

John;
The cost is irrelevant, if you want it, you want it I like the food here for the most part, but that taste of home is worth the price once in a while. I ate Strawberry Shortcake for desert last night, and it was great, albeit was dear.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Paul – We can usually get freshly picked strawberries if we take a ride up to Bukidnon (which we did last weekend). They taste better, and are far cheaper than any berries we can find in a store here. We usually pay P100 for a container of them… I’m not sure how many grams it would be though, because we usually eat them before they make it home! 😉 Buy some local “mamon” bread, and it tastes just like shortbread in the States….. makes a great strawberry shortcake, and not very expensive.

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Bob: mamon is a great substitute! I’ve seen the baguio berries up here, and they are not bad. Probably better to drive up there, but 4-5 hours driving for strawberries isn’t enough the make me go.

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

Paul: You are right… Berries can get expensive here unless you go to the farm. By the time they get to Manila, the ones in the supermarket don’t look all that good.

Paul-T
Guest
Paul-T

John/Bob; I’ve been using Mamon for quite awhile, and you’re right, it is a very good replacement. I buy frozen strawberries from the states here at the Royal store, only when I can’t get them from Baguio. My son-in-law’s family has trucks bring fresh fruit and produce to Olongapo City market 6 days a week, when those little red berries are in season I get them fresh that day. The whipped cream is available everywhere here, but I can make it myself, with a little cream and powered tenX sugar.

John in Austria
Guest
John in Austria

Hey John, that Chow Chow sounds real interesting. Never heard of it in my whole life. Another recipe search for me to do. At least in Austria I would be able to get all of the ingredients fresh. Your description of the sandwich and the photo were “delicious”! 🙂

John Miele
Guest
John Miele

John: It is good… Takes a bit of work to make, with all the chopping, but you could probably find everything in Austria (or the Philippines, for that matter)

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