Thursday, August 18, 2022
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The Filipino can

I have been an OFW for quite some time but this is the first time that I purposely brought with me a stash of food items from home for my consumption while I am away. Among my meager stash are a few small cans of Reno Liver Spread. There are bigger cans but the squat little tins were the ones I grabbed from the grocery shelf. It might have been cost-effective to get the bigger ones but my sentimental heart and mind would not allow it. The label has not been changed for as long as I remember, the brand name in red on a dark blue frame and a yellow field. On the opposite side is a crude illustration that suggests using the spread on toast points. A little blurb on the backside will remind you that it has been in existence since 1958. Newer brands have entered the market but there is still an allure and loyalty that Reno is liver spread and nothing else comes close.

Pate’ but not Foie Gras

Sealed can of Reno liver spread.
Sealed can of Reno liver spread.

In the realm of the well-heeled, liver would be consumed in the form of a refined pate’ of French origin harvested from possibly pedigreed geese and pigs who lived pampered lives. I will not delve on the process of making foie gras and the opinions associated with it. I consume animal products and I thank the beasts of the land, air, and water for their sacrifices in providing me sustenance. That leaf stuck in my teeth? Thank you too balunggay and all plants who sacrificed their leaves and stalks for my fiber needs. Now back to the social structures of pate’ consumption. I have visions that the moneyed class would not even spread Pate’ de Foie Gras in their non Fita based canapes in an attempt to extend its reach but instead plunk it like a jewel on a baguette baked especially for them by a French grandmother flown in just to knead flour harvested by singing farmers from the pristine fields of.. Yeah. But I also believe that Reno is enjoyed by a lot of people from all walks of life. A billionaire might still indulge in a snack of hot pan de sal smeared with Reno scooped with the silver spoon he was born with, and dabbed with grass-fed butter milked from a cow who lived her life dancing in verdant meadows… (Here I go again). On the other end of the spectrum, a bubbling cauldron of kaldereta for a tambay’s streetside birthday sumsuman and his wife’s sweet spaghetti are enhanced and thickened with a can or two of Reno. If half a can is saved it will be enough to tint a few immaculate slices of Angelina in the thinnest manner of adding spread to bread for their children’s school sandwiches.

Every time I open a can of Reno I always find pleasure in staring at the impression of the logo from the cover embossed on the minced mess of a meat. It does not look appetizing. The colors are disconcertingly non-food like. It has a canned tinny flavor. It is grainy. It tastes like a confused nut butter but made from offal and extenders. It pairs up excellently with bread and butter. It works well plunked on a hot bed of rice if the pantry is empty. It is addictive. My guilty pleasure is in eating it scoop by scoop from its tiny can while having an inner debate on whether or not too open a second.

Disclaimer: I was not paid by Reno. I paid for Reno.

Lee Santiago
Lee Santiago
Lee Santiago is a true-blue Bacolodnon artist, writer, blogger, cook, and foodie.


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