Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Food, Glorious Food

I have always been fascinated with food, any food. I am very thankful that I seem to gain little weight no matter how much I consume. There have been times when asked what kind of diet I'm into, my ready reply would be "I'm on a see food diet." Of which people would query, what kind of particular sea food I prefer. And I would correct them immediately in a comical manner: "no you don't understand, you see, I said I'm on a "see food diet", meaning I eat whenever I see food.

Members of my family on my mother side are all good cooks especially the men. Yes, each has their own versions of whatever dishes and oftentimes we would compare whose kaldereta is better, or whose beef stroganoff is too oily, whose salad dressing is too runny, etc. They also have this peculiar knack of turning the lowliest of ingredients into something wonderful. Most of them are not even bought but grown in the backyard.

My mother has this knack of copying food she had sampled in a restaurant. Once she had a taste of something she likes, rest assured that she can recreate the recipe almost perfectly. A talent my sister also seems to have which unfortunately I didn't acquire. I remember one time when I took them out for a Chinese dinner in a restaurant I come to often enough. Actually it was a trick on my part. I have been able to go to different restaurants and hotels in and around the metro because of my line of work and my friends. And when I get to sample something I truly liked from a fancy restaurant or even a turo-turo, I make it a point to bring either my mother or sister, or both back and sample it for themselves. And true enough, a day or two after; they recreate the dish to my delight. But it doesn't stop there, for the next time that dish is prepared, they would have improved on it further making it superior to the original recipe and thus making it their own. As a result, we never run out of guests in our house. A day won’t pass without at least one person who would come and stay for a couple of hours just to say hi. More so if we have a party. That is why, in our household, we may turn all lights off during the night except for the kitchen. The kitchen light is perpetually on, 24/7.

I can never compete with my uncles and cousins especially my mother and sister with regard to food preparation. They all seem to have this tactile ability to cook without even following a specific recipe. I am an outsider of sorts. They have this ability of making even the lowly okra or eggplant taste so good you'll come back for more. Oh yes I can cook but I have to follow a recipe to a T. My food may look and taste good, but they lack personality. One talent I have though is identifying who cooked which food. If presented with adobo or menudo prepared by two or even three family members for example, I can easily identify who prepared which without fail.

This talent made an officemates' wife smile with pride once. She happens to be a wonderful cook. We were on a weekend office outing once. She insists on cooking on site every time we do. As we sat for lunch, hungry from all the swimming we did, I was surprised with one of her offerings. I couldn't believe my tongue, it was good but there is something amiss. I immediately pointed this out to her and said she was not the one who made it. She was surprised but instead of being embarrassed gave a smile and said to her husband, "See, Genkuro knows my cooking." Her husband who happens to be my officemate was surprised himself. It turned out that one of their son's prepared that particular dish. So you see, even if you followed a recipe exactly, it won't be the same and will lack the personality of the original. It will totally be another character; it will assume that of the one who prepared it. It's like an indelible fingerprint capturing every nuance, spirit, love and state of mind of the one cooking the dish. That is the reason why the same dish will taste different coming from different branches of the same restaurant. The same is also true in cocktail and drink preparations.

With so many eateries here in the Philippines, it would be a delight for me to sample everything before I die. One thing I will never try though is dog meat. I love dogs, but love them as companions and not as gastronomic fares. I've had my share of exotic foods before and still do from time to time. I've had monitor lizards (bayawak), different kinds of snakes, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers (balang) and varied exotic sea food usually not sold in the market. I never had or will ever have a taste of something endangered though. I've had my share of the most exorbitantly priced restaurants to the cheapest street food. I've also sampled cuisines that are so fancifully prepared and so good to look at but tasted bland. Some that looks disgusting but burst with flavors so wonderful it made my tongue and palate smack with delight.

If there is one thing I'm good at in food preparation though it is baked goods. The precise preparation and measure is up my alley. I made it into some sort of extra livelihood once. Nobody can get enough of my almond coconut macaroons or my double chocolate cupcakes. But I had to let it go since baking takes a lot of time and I couldn't keep up with the orders, plus I had a full time job. I know there would be a time when I will go back to it again soon. The food business is really profitable if done logistically right.

But no matter how good or palatable food is. I have to agree with Penelope Cruz' character in a movie entitled Woman On Top wherein she says: "... food will taste better especially if you share it with the one you love." In the same breath I add: "It doesn't matter what is on the table for all to share, what matters is who is there with you to share it with."

Tara, kain tayo?

1 comment:

Twilight Zone said...

hahaha natawa ako kasi yan ang hilig ko at past time ko specially when i left phil all i do is to eat suyurin lahat ng resto kahit san ako mapunta.
2005 when i left Phil(im 28 then) and my first destination south asia(india,bangladesh,srilanka) at first pala di mo makakain yung pagkain nila pero pag nagtagal at nasanay kana sa labas madali nalang mag adjust at kaya mo ng kainin lahat(wag lang dog meat kasi takot ako sa rabies).
so from south asia na masyadong ma gravy at spicy bagsak ako ng thailand,malaysia,indonisia which may maaanghang ding pagkain pero totally different from the south then dito na sa china which di naman maanghang tapos matatawa ka kasi ibang iba sa nakamulatan nating chinese food ang pagkain dito grabe walang lasa hahaha.
at san ka makakita ng soup na halo halo chicken soup pero my lumalanoy na isada,my hipon at my pork yun ang soup nila halo halo(by the way no sea food for me since my allergy ako).
so from 55kg now im 85kg hahahahaha
lahat gulat sakin e sabi ko nalang sign of progress sige na nga nagpapalusot pa.