Thought for Food

On Sundays

On the seventh day God decided to take his break.  After that, it pretty much became automatic for the rest of the world. I think most people really decide to slow down every Sunday.  Depending on what one practices, a typical Sunday would be church followed by a great family lunch, a little bit of chores.  Evenings would be capped off with a great family dinner, sometimes with an optional trip to the movie theater for another round of bonding. There’s optional dessert and a mandatory blood sugar test the following Monday.

I really appreciate weekends since it is the time when my taste buds take a break from my cooking; everything my wife decides to cook become heavenly tasting. On Sundays, I sometimes take a break from taking a break and just play around with ingredients in the kitchen. Sundays are a time for experimentation on culinary delights that are not too complicated, just simple and clean flavors. It is the time when I test drive a recipe and make my family hostages guinea pigs around the table. The important thing for me is that everyone is present, from the wife, the kids, and even the two stray cats.

Sundays are a best reserved for recharging oneself.  It is that day when you can brush a lot of things off from your stress-filled plate.  To do otherwise is simply counterproductive. 

Everybody deserves a blissful Sunday.

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The Spaghetti Incident

More than twenty years ago, I was in high school at that time, I told my mom that the spaghetti with meat sauce at our home was not as good as the one over at my classmate’s house.  It’s not everyday that a kid can say that about the cooking at home.  I am not too sure if I hurt my mom’s feelings that day.  Hey, I was just a dumb kid at that time.

***

Looking back, I didn’t realize that I had always been brutally honest since I was a kid.  I always thought that it was a quality that evolved after high school and college.   A “concerned citizen” once recommended that I should try to shut up from time to time because I tend to get too hurtful once I get carried away.

Dissonance, that was how Mr. Kong called it in his article today at the Philippine Star.  I might love to think that I am honest and will speak my mind freely but some might think that I’m just being a major asshole.  That’s dissonance for you.

***

My mom told me to tell our cook/maid about the spaghetti.  An obedient kid I was, I did what my mom told me.  So what did I get out of it?  Well, I can sum up how the cook reacted in series.   She was shocked, probably angry, and ended up giving me a blank stare.  Hey, I was just a dumb kid following orders.

***

Giving and following orders.  Today as a slightly less dumb adult, I can just say that we should be careful in giving out instructions.  Sometimes, that delightful smile and nod of approval you get out of someone after talking to them can also mean “WTF are you asking me to do again?”  In extreme cases, one will have to do something the subordinate was supposed to do.  You’ll end up doing that task instead.

***

So, I explained to our household staff what I wanted.  I guess she wasn’t prepared for all the suggestions.  I can’t say she didn’t try hard.  She just didn’t understand what I wanted at that time.  From then on, I decided that I should learn to cook.  I also embarked on my series of experiments to duplicate the experience but I couldn’t really get it exactly right.

Honestly, twenty years after, I think I’ve already forgotten how the spaghetti at my friend’s house tasted.  The important takeaway from that is that it fueled my desire to learn a new skill — cooking.  At least today, my wallet does not have to suffer much trauma from paying for too much takeaway food.  Even eating out today is more of an educational experience rather than just for the sole purpose of tummy filling.

***

We shouldn’t be just content to copy the experience or duplicate something.  We can always try to go for improvement.

***

I cooked spaghetti for the family last night.  I used crumbled Vigan longanisa, peppers, black olives and diced tomatoes.

Love Thy Mami

Pinoys love their noodles. There’s the usual Chinese-inspired pancit and its local variants. There’s the “Italian” spaghetti and its sweet PInoy counterpart. Of course, Pinoys of all ages love their bowl of piping hot noodle soup, the mami. Mami is a simple and filling dish of noodles served in broth, usually chicken or beef, with a generous sprinkling of spring onions. One can have it solo or served up with a dumpling or siopao. Other variants may include some slices of boiled egg and other meats. Some might serve it up with seafood. Mami is best enjoyed during rainy days or after an all-night drinking session. Personally, I can have this dish as a sub for my regular meal of rice and viand.

Noodle houses are common eating establishments in Metro Manila. There are the fast food type of places like Chow King, Hen Lin, Dimsum and Dumplings. Relatively newer places include Hap Chan, Luk Yuen, and David’s Tea House. There are also those little carinderias and evening street food carts that serve up the dish for those who want it after a long day. There are also the older Chinese places in Manila. One thing is certain; regardless of the scale of operations, people from different walks of life will have their own favorite place to eat noodles.

Charlie Wanton Special on Haig St. Mandaluyong City

If you ask previous (older) generations of Metro Manila residents to name the noodle place they enjoyed the most during their younger years, they’ll probably mention and rave about the old Ma Mon Luk.  I think the old Ma Mon Luk is still there in Quezon City and it still probably has its old fans. However, I’m sure that these old Ma Mon Luk holdovers might give their beloved restaurant a second thought once they give Charlie Wanton Special a try. I remember my dad taking me to a branch of this restaurant. I found their restaurant on Haig St. in Mandaluyong City a few years back. Since then I’ve made it a point to eat there whenever any of my appointments take me near the place.

What to order:

The Special Size Beef Wanton Mami. The noodles are cooked just right, not malabsak or mushy.  The serving comes with an extra small bowl of soup.  Bawal mabitin sa sabaw ang mahilig sa mami.

Choices, Choices

Possible Pairing:

Siomai. The only size there is BIG.

Siopao. Go for the Special Bola Bola. It’s big enough to be shared by two people.

What else to order:

The pancit and other Cantonese-inspired dishes appear as good bets for a possible pig-out session.

Preparation needed:

Sweat out whatever meal you had before trying to order what I listed above. That set is guaranteed to fill up a normal-sized Pinoy gut. That’s unless that Pinoy happens to be an eating contest champion with a strong obsessive craving for food.

Budget:

P 200 should be more than enough to satisfy one hungry individual. Again, that’s unless that hungry individual happens to be an eating contest champion with a strong obsessive craving for food.

Burrrrppp!

 

A Little More Hotness, Please

I admit that this product’s package design kinda stood out among other chips on the shelf of our favorite grocery store.  Next to light colored packaging, this dark bag of starch, salt, pepper and some oil made me want to pick it up and give it a closer view.  It promised very hot chips and a promise to GO WILD.  That sounded perfect for an evening watching movies at home.

Very Hot Chips!

 

I was also amused with the back of pack that provided an explanation on why peppers are spicy.  It also claimed that beer was the best way to neutralize the spiciness — I won’t argue against that. 🙂

Just Add Beer

 

As to Pinnacle’s Texas Wild’s promised extra hotness, I found the hotness falling short of being VERY.  But hey, I am pretty sure they tuned the taste to match the average chip eater’s hotness tolerance.  I’ve always been crazy about spicy food and might have built a tolerance already.

Overall, I still enjoyed eating the stuff.  I might even buy it again.  Why not?  It’s a perfect excuse to buy beer — it says there on the packaging. 🙂