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Christmas dinner in the time of inflation

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By AA Patawaran

Christmas in the Philippines is a great affair and nothing, not even inflation at six percent, can stop it.

FESTIVE TREATS — Filipino Noche Buena dishes such as pork ham, morcon, macaroni salad, embotido, keso de bola, fruitcake and bibingka are just a few of Manila Hotel's Cafe Ilang-ilang offerings this holiday season. (Noel Pabalate)

FESTIVE TREATS — Filipino Noche Buena dishes such as pork ham, morcon, macaroni salad, embotido,
keso de bola, fruitcake and bibingka are just a few of Manila Hotel’s Cafe Ilang-ilang offerings this holiday season. (Noel Pabalate/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Although prices of common Noche Buena products have increased by a range of 20 centavos to P49.75, according to a report released by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) early in October this year, trust that there will be food on the table on Christmas Eve and it’s going to be nothing less than special.

A staple on the holiday table, the Christmas ham, compared to last year, is more expensive by at least 50 centavos or by as much as P21, its prices, according to a price guide released by DTI, now ranging from P255 per kilo (Swift Jamon de Bola) to P808.50 per kilo (Purefoods Fiesta Ham), but it remains no doubt the star of this year’s Noche Buena as it has always been.

But Christmas always has a place in the Filipino heart and no one can steal it. The Noche Buena budget will include some kind of pasta, despite price increases in elbow and macaroni that range from a low of 90 centavos to a high of P6.10 and though spaghetti sauce is now 20 centavos to P2.90 more dear. Just as dear is keso de bola, though its price has increased by a minimum of P15 or a maximum of P49.75, whether it is Magnolia Gold Edam cheese ball at P410 per 500 grams or Marca Pina quezo de bola at P967, even Danes cheese ball at P295. Fruit cocktail too is now much pricier by anywhere between P2.50 and P18.45, but expect fruit salad on many a Christmas table anyway.

Christmas commemorates the birth of a child in a manger on a cold, dark, unwelcoming night and Filipinos, even in the best of times, has not lost sight of that. It’s about gratitude.
It’s about celebration. It’s about family and friends coming together for good cheer and great wishes. And the Christmas dinner, often held at midnight or earlier in the night on the eve of Christmas, is always about the family sharing a moment of love and hope and thanksgiving. And anyway, all the preps involved, all the love that goes with the peeling, chopping,
dicing, cutting, slicing, grinding, carving of ingredients, all the memories that waft in along with the aromas and the smoke of cooking, whatever it is that is on the stove, in the pan, in the oven, or on the grill, are all it takes to make each Christmas memorable, the most wonderful time of the year.

Indeed, at Christmas, in good times or in bad, enough is better than a feast.

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