Bourdain’s Field Notes

MANILA, April 2016—Like many children all over the world, my daughter arrived home from the hospital to find a Filipino baby nurse. Vangie was with her from the very beginning of her life, and in time, my daughter came to know her son, her daughter-in-law, their kid, and, in time—extended family and friends in New Jersey, Southern California, and the Bay Area.

And of course, most importantly, Jacques, Vangie’s grandson, her best friend, from whom she has been inseparable since infancy—her older brother in every way but biological—her partner in crime. If I go back through old photos today, at least half will be of the two of them together.

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Travel like Bourdain

Metro Manila, bustling, sprawling, Southeast Asian capital of the Philippines, home to somewhere between 12 to 20 million people. The world’s most densely populated city.


Kare-kare: A Filipino oxtail and tripe stew flavored with peanut butter.

OFW: Overseas Filipino Worker

Halo-halo: (Literally “mix mix”) Filipino dessert made with a treasure trove of ingredients, including bean curd and bright candied fruits.

Know Before You Go

Christmas comes early in this predominantly Catholic nation. At midnight on September 1 many people post Christmas greetings on Facebook, and from then until December 25, much of the country is aglow with Christmas lights and buzzing with carolers.

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