Mario Davis's Blog

March 6, 2011

Eating your way to a woman's heart

The saying “large and in charge” never played a significant role in the life of Philip Cabrera until he traveled to Vietnam. Philip is a Cal State Fullerton communications student determined to become the next big travel journalist.

Kind and curious are two words some use to describe Philip, Phil or “Philly,” as we call him. Philly is short for “Philly Cheesesteak,” a nickname he tells others to call him in order to help remember his name. I call this technique, the “Philly Cheese Brain Tease.” Oddly enough, it works because I never forgot his name.

Philly, 27, was one of 12 students selected to travel to Northern Vietnam as a foreign news correspondent and as part of the Project Vietnam medical mission team. Philly said he weighs about 300 pounds and likes to try new foods. He also said he enjoys reporting on the various cuisines he consumes, similar to a food critic.

It was a talent he hoped to use in Vietnam. That plan backfired. Concerned about his grade and finding a unique story to blog about, it seemed as if Philly ran into a closed door – a door that would remain closed only temporarily. Once opened, Donald Trump’s angel would appear on his shoulder only to honor him as Vietnam’s newest Celebrity Apprentice.

It was a rare sunny day. The market was bustling with Vietnamese wearing Non La (handcrafted hats made of leaves). The smell of fresh trout filled the air. The pace was fast. One wrong turn and a pickpocket could rob you so blind, you would not see your way back into the United States. Your identity pouch remained securely strapped across your chest like a bandolier.

Feeling confident to enter, our class did. One by one, our American group proceeded into the market. As the last team member stepped in, silence filled the air. The absence of sound became audible and it grew with each step Philly took. The chickens gasped for one last breath as whacking cleavers paused in mid-air. The auction style negotiations between bargainers came to a complete halt as Phillip Cabrera walked in.

We stood there, in the midst of the silence waiting for them to make the first move. That’s when a female butcher relinquished a chuckle. Then a male companion did the same. Within a matter of minutes, the entire left corner of the market grew excited to see this big guy. He was as foreign to them as they were to us. Many pulled out their cameras to take pictures. Children asked for his autograph and teens took part in untranslated conversation. Several women proposed to the newcomer. It was a magnificent day for Philly – he was large and in charge.

The question is, why did Philly receive such celebrity treatment?

In early Oriental practice, children were taught at a young age that the size of a man is equivalent to the size of his wealth. In other words, the bigger a man’s stomach, the bigger his bank account. This also made larger men appear attractive to many women. Although big people are looked down upon in America, Vietnam proves opposite of that stereotype and if Donald Trump were to reappear on Philly’s shoulder, he would only have two words to say: “You’re hired!”