i used to live in the dorm, way back in college. i lived on the weekly allowance i was sent, and budgeting the allowance was always an exercise in creativity, particularly when unexpected school expenses came up.
when money was pretty okay we'd find ourselves eating at rodic's (where you eat your best) where back then meals cost something like 65-75 pesos. or casaa, where the cost was somewhat the same.
beach house was also a cheap and yummy option, but only if you made it early enough to skip the lines. if not, you'll be late for class.
as money got tighter, however, meals at rodic's, casaa, and beach house became rare. eating at these places became "things to do" when the next allowance installment arrived.
so this is where the aristocart came in. i have no idea who coined the term aristoCART but it gave these eating places some sort of elegance, even though the food was, as the name states, found in carts.
the aristocarts were found in several places, mostly near the dorms. there was one behind the engineering building, one near narra, one near sampa, i think. meals went anywhere from 15 to 30 pesos. extra rice was at 2 pesos.
if you were near the dorm it was okay because you can just buy the food (packed in plastic bags) and eat in your room. if not, you can buy the styrofoam packaging and plastic spoons and forks for an additional 3? 5? pesos, which was crazy because you're on a budget and you can buy extra rice with that!
so what we did (at least what my then boyfriend w taught me), was we'd take the plastic bags to a table. they had a tambayan near narra with kiosks and tables. we'd go there and eat. it was an amazing process.
first he'd blow into the plastic bag with the rice, shake it up so nothing sticks to the plastic. (at this point i'd blow into mine).
then he'd open the plastic bag along the seam, spread it along the table, and make a square plate. if we had water he'd dampen the corners so the plastic sticks to the table.
depending on the ulam, the other plastic bags would be opened in the same manner or just positioned beside the "plate" half open for easy access.
then we'd eat with our hands. :P if you don't want to get your hands messy, you can ask for an extra plastic bag to eat with. just slip your hand into it, and use your hand as if it weren't covered.
:) i don't know how many people did it this way, but we did. and it was fun, and creative, and i always enjoyed the meals. some of those aristocart people can really really cook. i just wish i had pictures to post here.
it's been years since i've done it, and i miss it. maybe one day, even when money isn't tight, i'll visit an aristocart and eat there. but i think this time, i'll pay for the spoons.