What Makes Food “Sulit”?August 4, 2019
It’s fitting that we Filipinos have the word sulit, to capture and expound on the concept of value-for-money. Because, let’s face it, even if we’re experiencing and enjoying a barrage of fancy and (relatively) expensive international food concepts, we’re always on the lookout for the sulit alternative. I think we’re predisposed to try and make every peso count, while still getting away with having a good time.
Though it’s easy enough to equate the term to being cheap, it’s often not the case. We don’t want something that’s easy on the pocket but leaves us hanging. Satisfaction, after all, is the underlying principle of getting that bang for your buck.
So what does make a meal sulit? Let’s take a look.
A Balance of Three Factors
Looking at the factors that affect our perception of food, I’d say sulit just goes back to basics. It focuses on three things: Price, Portion, and Taste. Like the Venn diagram shows (side note: Venn diagrams are cool), when your meal occupies that sweet spot between the three, you can readily say that it is sulit.
Time and the Place
A curious thing about sulit though, is that our perception of it changes over time and with our spending power. For example, that favorite siomai meal you had in college was undeniably sulit back then. It filled you up for less than fifty pesos, and you could have it almost every day. Heck, I lived almost exclusively off the stuff for weeks on end.
But now that you’re a working stiff/corporate slave, you soon learn that a meal that costs over two hundred pesos counts as sulit too. Of course it’s not something that you’d have every day, but it’s still amazing to suddenly feel that nicer meals can be within your reach, too.
Can’t Pass Up a Good Deal
The best thing about sulit is the smug feeling of satisfaction you get. It’s like finding a secret store that sells branded stuff at 70% off all the time, which is why a buffet that offers prime rib and foie gras for a couple of grand is just as sulit as a twenty peso bowl of pares that’s got a ton of meat. They both make you feel like you got away with something.