My parents and their friends used to get together one Saturday a month for a big party. No birthday, no holiday, no graduation to celebrate. Just an excuse to eat, drink, and dance (as a young girl, I witnessed a lot of Electric Slide to "Achy Breaky Heart" in various Filipino basements).
These Filipino parties were all about the food. As soon as guests arrived and said their hellos, they would be directed straight to the dining room, where a long table would be covered with a variety of dishes -- from lechon on one end of the table to a box of Popeye's chicken on the other. And there was always pancit and eggrolls.
Pancit is a party food. My parents told me that pancit was always served at celebrations in the Philippines. And for good reason: It's the ultimate crowd-pleaser. There's something in it for everyone -- chicken, shrimp, pork, Chinese sausage, carrots, cabbage, celery, and noodles. And everyone always appreciates the hard work put into a big dish of pancit. The actual cooking isn't too complicated, but rather the prep and chopping of all those ingredients that really makes a gal sweat. (The julienned carrots are killer.)
This pancit wasn't eaten at a party; I ate this plateful (and another afterward) the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, which helped fuel me up for a night of won ton wrapping. And, as mentioned in the won ton post, we made eggrolls with leftover won ton filling.
Eggrolls, or lumpia Shanghai, are truly addictive. They're different than vegetable lumpia, which are bigger and more filling. Lumpia Shanghai are smaller, bite-size rolls of fried, crispy perfection. There are never leftovers. When my mom makes them at parties, she fries and serves them in batches. Because if she made them all at once and put them on the table at the beginning of the party, they would all be gone in about half an hour. No joke.
I stopped going to Filipino parties once I hit the terrible preteen years, but my parents would always bring food back when they got home. That's another thing about Filipino parties -- there's always enough food to take home. In fact, when my mom throws parties, she always makes enough for leftovers and insists that people wrap up plates to take away.
I used to get sick of eating pancit every time we had company. But after I learned how to cook it myself and brought it to a potluck, I soon realized the magic of this party dish. Bring pancit to a potluck party, and you'll be voted Most Popular by the end of the night. Everybody loves pancit. As for the eggrolls, no one ever gets sick of those. I could eat about 50 right now. Seriously.