What Juan Wants, He Cannot Get

What Juan Wants, He Cannot Get

The F Word: Food By Chef Chris Lachenal

AS THE pandemic continues to spread its tentacles across the globe, and the uncertainty seems to extend a bit longer, poor Juan de la Cruz is out of his wits. Googling his basic salary, well, is it enough?

What Juan Eats | National Wage Board, NCR

Have you even wondered what Juan eats nowadays? Do you know how much pork or beef costs today? How about chicken, seafood, or vegetables? What will Juan do with his minimum wage now that the prices of basic commodities have gone sky-high?

Just a year after

In the last quarter of 2020, crop prices soared as a result of the calamities that hit us and devastated our provinces. In a span of just a year, there is a marked difference felt in the cost of meats sold in the market.

Below is the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) price watch matrices on the prices of commodities before the lockdown and now. 

What Juan Eats | Prices of meat and fruits in the market before the lockdown

Price Monitoring as of 16 Jan 2020

What Juan Eats | Current prices of meat and fruits in the market

Price Monitoring as of 22 Jan 2021

Pork is in the spotlight, its price is staggering. Before the lockdown, we get it from the meat shop at around ₱150-155 per kilogram. Currently, it is over ₱300. If you were to buy from a membership supermarket, the price is at ₱405 per kilogram. 

What Juan Eats -Prices of vegetables in the market before the lockdown

Price Monitoring as of 16 Jan 2020


Notice also the big price difference between vegetables before the pandemic and how they fare presently.

What Juan Eats -Current prices of vegetables in the market

Price Monitoring as of 22 Jan 2021

These Daily Price Monitoring data show retail prices of selected agri-fishery commodities in these selected markets in Metro Manila: Commonwealth, Las Pinas, Mega Q-Mart, San Andres, Quinta, Guadalupe, Marikina, Muñoz, Pasig & Pasay. They are prepared by DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service-Surveillance, Monitoring and Enforcement Group

Limitation is the mother of Creativity

We have all heard it before and it sounds true. We all have to be creative in these times to survive. 

As we were on our way home from the grocery, I suggested, “Ma, it’s cheaper to eat canned goods; why don’t we have one meal of the canned variety and another of the fresh ones?” So we’ll be trying that this coming week. 

Today, let’s make something that can be a snack or ulam. Try these Cheesy Mackerel Cigars (download print-ready copy). They do not come with nicotine but they can be addictive when done right. 

Start the year right with a healthy outlook in 2021. 

Cheesy Mackerel Cigars

Prep time: 10-15 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes

Serves 2


1           can           Mackerel,  drained and flaked

1           tsp            Garlic, minced

1           tsp            Bell Pepper, minced

2           tsp            Onions, minced

                               Eden cheese, sliced into sticks

                               Tomatoes, sliced into thin wedges

                               Salt & Pepper to taste

                               Lumpia wrappers

  3        tbsp          Oil for deep frying

                               Spiced vinegar as a dipping sauce


In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together until well incorporated. Scoop one tablespoon-full of the mixture and arrange them at least two inches apart on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 350ºF for about 10 minutes. Let cool for five minutes before serving.


Scoop a tablespoon of Mackerel and place it in the center of a lumpia wrapper.

Place two wedges of Tomato and a Stick of Cheese. Wrap the filling like Lumpiang Shanghai.

Deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. Enjoy with spiced vinegar.


A quicker way is to dice the Tomatoes and grate the Cheese. Combine with sautéed Mackerel. This will be like your Lumpiang Shanghai stuffing.

You can also wrap them in triangles.

I will see you all next Thursday. Ciao!

Chef signed

Featured image: Vegetables stalled photo by Magda Ehlers

Chef Chris Lachenal strives to elevate Filipino cuisine and revive dishes that are slowly losing popularity. A former chef instructor, he emphasized the importance of understanding the process of things in order to grasp refinement in food. As a chef-for-hire he satisfies his clients, always. He is the creative and passionate soul behind FoodCreations by CCL.

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