Monday, December 18, 2006

This Just In... No More Meat, Rice, Pasta for Bochog!

It is a testament to my sad, sorry, defensive state that I am referring to myself in the 3rd person. As we all know, no one of sound mind does this. Let me amend that, no non-celebrity of sound mind refers to herself in the 3rd person. (I make this necessary amendment because I have heard through the grapevine that Ate Vi, bless her, calls herself "Vilma Santos." When asked to endorse a laundry bar, she apparently said, "Parang hindi naglalaba si Vilma Santos gamit ang kamay. Kung maglalaba si Vilma Santos, siguro gagamit siya ng washing machine." Let me take a moment to, in internet speak, ROTFLMAO. I don't know if this is true, and I don't particularly care. It's a hilarious story.).

But back to more serious matters, the kind that make people ponder metaphysical questions. In particular, what is identity? How is one's identity connected to the container one is housed in, ie one's body?

I ask these questions because I have just been told by the doctor to lose weight. Now, this is not a rare occurence. I have been told all my life to lose weight by doctors and non-doctors alike, by people I know and virtual strangers, by people who truly care and those who only care to expound on the virtues of being... not fat (in sum, that one would be more attractive and that from this increase in attractiveness, everything else will follow: boyfriend, husband, family, success, great life--hell, maybe even a spot in heaven!).

Most times, I am able to shrug these things off. I just tell people that I'm happy with myself and they are free to make of it what they will. This time, I couldn't dismiss the doctor telling me to lose weight because it wasn't so much being told to lose weight that bothered me, it was being told to, ahem, cut portions. Specifically, cut rice and pasta portions. And no pork, he said. Fish and chicken and veggies and fruits (except the ones that are too sweet) are all right. But no meat. No meat.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present... the Devil in a White Coat. Fancying telling me not to eat meat anymore. Not to cook pasta. The horror! Telling me to find another hobby besides food and cooking and eating. Que barbaridad! Even asking me if I have an eating disorder (his exact words were, "hindi ka ba yung tipong kumakain ng marami tapos isusuka?" Uh, you mean, am I bulimic? A great, big DUH!!! to you, Doc. If I were bulimic, that would suck 'cause, basically, all that purging obviously doesn't work and I'm still fat. A fat bulimic. That's a funny oxymoron right there. I'd be laughing my lardy ass off if it weren't my gastronomic future on the line). I told Doc Devil that I'm very well-adjusted, thank you. To which he said, "Mukha ngang masaya ka sa sarili mo." I don't know if he was being sarcastic but I take that as a compliment because I am happy with myself. It's just other people who sometimes aren't happy with me.

Don't get me wrong. Doc Devil wasn't mean. In fact, he seemed genuinely concerned. It's just that I feel that the minute he saw me, he automatically went on a crusade to get me to lose weight and virtually reduced my health issues to the fact of being big. And while I do think his dietary suggestions are valid (in fact, since Friday I have been eating no more than 1 cup of rice every meal instead of my usual, uh, 2 plates . I feel--quite rightly--self-congratulatory.), I think it was simplistic of him to blame my weight for my stuffy nose and scratchy throat. Another great, big DUHHH!!! Ever heard of a viral infection, Doc? No? Maybe you should go back to med school then.

I do know that I get very defensive when people comment and ask about my bigness. I get especially prickly when people tell me maybe I should lose weight. It's classical conditioning. People tell me I'm too big, which elicits a conditioned response of bristling resentment. People often talk about finding it hard to like and love themselves. I've never found it hard. I've always liked me, enjoyed my own company, thought myself deserving of anything I seek and work to have, and loved me. That hasn't been hard at all. It also hasn't been hard accepting the reality that not many people will probably like and love me to the same extent that I do myself. I have been ok with that fact. What I am not ok with and probably will never be ok with is the cavalier way with which people seek to impose their standards of beauty, sometimes disguised as concern for my health, on me when I take great pains to let them be. Be beautiful, be ugly. Be smart, be stupid. Be anything. (To illustrate: I don't tell people, "maybe you should try to be smarter." Or, "you'd be more attractive if you changed your face." That would be downright mean. What people don't get is that it's the same kind of mean to tell someone she'd be more attractive if she lost weight. Because then you assume that the person you're concerned about holds the same views about herself that you hold, ie that she is not smart enough, not pretty enough, not anything enough. Why would anyone make, let alone articulate, such harsh assumptions?).

I don't like being told what to do and how to be. I know this. It is almost pathological. My professor told me that things "told" me should be couched in egalitarian terms, terms that speak nothing of power imbalances, hierarchical relationships, and societal standards of being and worth.

I am trying to be pragmatic (for once in my life) and reasonable about it. Which means I have to take off my political/ideological lenses and view the matter from a more, er, neutral health perspective. (And no, I won't question the assumption that a health perspective is politically neutral. 'Cause this post is never going to end if I do that). I have a particular health concern, ie kabag (which is going away now, thank you). It may be an acute reaction to something (a virus or whatever) or it may be a symptom of an underlying digestive problem brought about by my fondness for food that's not, shall we say, optimal for health. What to do then? It pains me to say it but Food and I? We're gonna have to COMPROMISE.

So I will try to cut my rice portions to 1 cup per meal and my pasta portions to a single serving (around 100 grams, according to most cookbooks). Our bi-monthly menu only includes 2-3 pork dishes, of which I hope to limit myself again to only one serving. (When I say single serving, I mean a normal-sized portion and not my usual family-sized portions.). I've actually been eating more fish, veggies, and fruits so that's not really a problem. As for exercise, I'm going to continue strutting my beautiful bum around my village, maybe just more regularly.

But I say this now, I don't plan to ever swear off pork and rice and pizza and pasta. Doing so would guarantee the failure of this compromise agreement. I love food and I'll never force myself to stop loving food. That's non-negotiable. Maybe it's a matter of loving not just with my heart and gut but also with my head.

Like I told my Ditchie and Claire, though, I see hard times ahead. I see possible bouts of anger and depression. I see philosophical railings and metaphysical meanderings all in the name of food and weight and identity and love. Such is the nature of a committed relationship, I guess. It evolves, and you have to make certain changes to keep it going. Of course, just writing this makes me sad all over again. Reminds me of Shakespeare's idea of love:

Love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O, no! It is an ever fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Losing Eat

I was struck by a viral infection that rendered me housebound for the better part of November, with only enough energy to sleep a lot and eat a little. I'll say that again. Eat A LITTLE. Up to now, I still can't quite believe that I went through a period of time not feeling like eating. Not wanting food, or needing it, or loving it, or having any kind of emotion about it. This, to state the obvious (something that I like to do every now and then), was uncharacteristic of me. It had never happened, in fact. I've felt worse in the past and have actually been sick with gastroenteritis (which I believe is God's punishment for eating indiscriminately). But even during that hellish period of alternating nausea and diarrhea punctuated by 3 needle shots, I still found in me the will to eat. For about one week last month, I lost it. I lost the will to eat.

This is how it happened. My loving, generous mother came home from Hong Kong bearing the gift of Zhen de Shou, a Chinese herbal supplement that purportedly helps one lose weight. My mom, bless her, had taken it upon herself to help us, her three daughters, lose weight. Not that we were begging for help. In fact, not that we were trying to lose weight either. Well, maybe my two sisters. Kinda. It's just that my mother is one of those people who believe that people are more beautiful when they're not fat. She thinks we're beautiful, yes. But I think she believes that we'd be downright ravishing if only we lost a bit of weight (in my case, a LOT of weight). I don't have the heart to tell her that being downright ravishing requires not just a certain weight but also a certain mien, an oomph that not everyone who's beautiful and thin may have. (Case in point, Lani Mercado, objectively a beautiful woman but, also objectively, about as 3D, sexy, and ravishing as a thumb tack). I just don't have that oomph. Maybe my sisters. But me? Not so much.

But when your mother brings home a month's worth of herbal supplements that cost quite a bit of money, you do not say no. You do not go into a pseudo-feminist rant about restrictive standards of beauty. Instead, you say, "Ok. Thanks, Mama. Love you. This doesn't have side effects naman, di ba?" And even though you rarely pray these days, you say a quick but heartfelt prayer that this works. If not for you, then for your mom. Who's obviously desperate about YOUR weight.

So I took them pills for three days. And on the 3rd day, God created Bochog's Loss of Appetite, a state or condition characterised by a lassitude that cannot be accounted for by a simple viral infection. Such lassitude includes an alarming apathy towards food and a similar disinterest in any kind of activity that constitutes the concept of LIVING. I did not feel like moving, dreaming, thinking, eating. I did not feel like doing anything.

The Loss of Appetite terrified me and prompted me to quit taking the pills and go to the hospital. The doctors at the hospital thought it was just another symptom of the viral infection. But when I asked my sisters, they said they were also feeling the same inertia. Mine was just worse because I was already sick with the viral thingy (I just didn't know it). I think also that my experience was worse because you do not go from thinking the world of food to not having any kind of thought or feeling about it in zero seconds flat. That just doesn't happen. Needless to say, my sisters quit too. And Ate My urged Mama to stop taking the pills. Turns out, Mama was feeling those things too. Except she was attributing them to high BP. When Ate My told her what happened, she realized it was those bleeding Zhen de Shou supplements. They make you lose weight, all right. They do it by making you lose your joie de vivre and turning you into a zombie. Or an anorexic trapped in the body of a fat girl. To which I say, no thanks. I'd rather be fat, passably pretty, and happy. I don't need to be thin and drop dead gorgeous.

So now we have around a dozen unopened boxes of those blasted pills. I'm not even going to give them to anyone. They're horrible. My sisters and I have never been so happy about quitting anything. Quitting those pills was like quitting sadness. And I'll always quit that.

Friday, November 17, 2006


A couple of months ago, I was having merienda with a college classmate at CASAA in UP. He reminded me of an article I supposedly wrote for the Psych newsletter. Supposedly because I don't actually remember writing it. I have only vague memories of being asked to write something. According to my batchmate, I wrote about the all-important question of which KFC chicken tastes better: Original or Hot and Crispy? He remembers, my batchmate said, because my article came out in the same issue where he and a former girlfriend wrote presumably incisive commentaries on the phenomenon of People Power (presumably because I don't remember reading his article so I really wouldn't know). His article was about his opinions and experience as a "loyalista" and his ex's was the opposite. His reaction to my article was one of amused dismay (or was that dismayed amusement? I forget.). He apparently made a career of writing a serious op-ed piece (in Tagalog, kinareer niya.) about an important historical and political event, only to find it juxtaposed with my food review which I'd be willing to bet was an equally serious treatise on the merits and demerits of variations in chicken batter and breading.

So, as a tribute to this KFC treatise I supposedly wrote (and, trust me, I may not remember, but it's not out of character for me to have written something like that), I present... Bochog's Battle of the Brands...

1) Purefoods Tender Juicy vs. Swift's Mighty Meaty (and, well, every other hotdog brand). Purefoods Tender Juicy is Manny Pacquiao. Swift's Mighty Meaty is Erik Morales. Pacquiao knocked down Morales, who is one hot dawg. Pound for pound, Pacquiao is the best fighter we have today, so boxing afficionados say. I say, kilo for kilo, Purefoods Tender Juicy hotdogs are the best hotdogs... ever. (A caveat: by hotdogs, I mean those cute red tubes of processed meat rejects. If they're not red, they're not hotdogs, they're franks. Capice?).

2) Purefoods Corned Beef vs. Swift's Corned Beef. Again, Purefoods trumps Swift's in the corned beef department. Everyone I know prefers Purefoods corned beef because the beef is juicy without being smelly. Plus, there's no aftertaste when you eat it. I hate it when you eat corned beef and then, afterwards, your breath smells like you just ate corned beef. Swift's corned beef is too juicy, if that's at all possible. It's over the top beefy as opposed to Purefoods' subtle flavor. Of course, one can argue that maybe Swift's corned beef is juicier and beefier because it's got more real beef than Purefoods. To that I say, if I want real corned beef, I'd make my own.

3) Milo vs. Ovaltine. This is a draw. For drinking, Ovaltine is my choice chocomalt drink. But as ulam, Milo is it. One of my favorite childhood meals was rice topped with heaping spoonfuls of Milo powder. Uh-uhm.

4) Lipton vs. Nestea. Again, pretty difficult to call this one. On one hand, Nestle iced tea is a sentimental favorite because I remember the first time I drank iced tea (during a Bible study that my dad dragged us children to), it was Nestle iced tea. How do I know this? I don't, really. But I believe, hallelujah, in the same way I believe that the Lord sent his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to save us from sin (John 3:16). Amen. Praise the Lord. It is possible that the iced tea I drank that long time ago was, in fact, Lipton iced tea. But because the popular commercial during that time was Nestea's (you know, the one where people drink Nestea and splash into a fake pool of agua), all iced tea became Nestea to me. So, Nestea wins this one due to marketing savvy. Nestea should change its slogan to: Nestea. Ang Colgate ng mga iced tea.

4) Burger Machine vs. Scott Hamburger. This seems like a ridiculously easy one. Burger Machine, right? It is, after all, the Mama of burger stands. At least back in the day, when 24-hour service was not yet uso and food chains closed shop at 9 pm even after Martial Law. The theory is this: All those food stands that were so big during the 80s, like Burger Machine, Scott Hamburger, Pedro Pendito, 3M Pizza, etc. lagged in the evolutionary race and eventually died a natural death because the bigger food chains decided to go all 7-11 on everyone during the mid-90s. Since people now had a McDo or a Jollibee to go to in the wee hours of the morning, Burger Machine, et. al. lost their tenuous hold on the market of desperately hungry folks who don't bother with taste at 3 in the morning. It's a reasonable explanation. But maybe one that is not all that pertinent to the discussion at hand. The point is this: in terms of taste, Burger Machine beats Scott. All burgers beat Scott Hamburger, in fact. Scott Hamburger is the worst burger ever. But. But, I don't have the heart to write it off that easily because my mom used to buy me Scott hamburgers by the dozen. Since no one (but my mom, obviously) was buying burgers from Scott, they had this perpetual Buy 1, Take 1 promo. So my mom, the bargain hunter, would always buy one and take one. Six times over. So for taste, it's Burger Machine. But as an indicator of Mama's love, Scott pacquiao's Burger Machine at 3 am and any other time.

5) Sprite vs. 7-Up. Sprite is sweeter. Sprite makes for a prettier name for a child. (My 1st grade classmate's older brother was named Sprite. Her older sister was Mirinda. She was Orange, as in Royal Tru.). Sprite makes for the best shrimp marinade. Yum.

Spritey Shrimps (Mama's Recipe)

sprite (bottle size depends on amount of shrimps to marinade)

Soak shrimps in Sprite. Then fry. Then enjoy.


Saturday, October 28, 2006


I think sometimes I've become fastidious, finicky, even when it comes to food. I would be the last person to restrict good eating to fine dining. As long as I'm eating good, clean, cheap food in a clean, nice smelling place, I'm set. Sometimes, I can forgive the occasional funky odor if the food is worth it. The siopao in Ma Mon Luk, for instance, is worth the sticky floors and pungent air. (Tip: if you're worried about utensils being less than clean, douse them with alcohol, wipe, then air dry for just a few seconds. I'm not sure if it really works, but the psychological duping effect is A-rated bliss).

Like everyone else, though, I have set tastes. And although my gastronomic standards are relatively broader, I still have preconceived images of good eats in my mind. I must confess, eating at a poorly-funded sanctuary for victims of military atrocities was not my idea of gastronomic heaven.

I was wrong. Last thursday's merienda and yesterday's lunch at the said sanctuary deserve a moment in posterity through this humble blog. Thursday's merienda was a bowl of gooey sweet rice pudding with roasted mung beans. I was searching my memory for the name, asking my companions, but no one knew. They didn't seem to care, in fact. They just kept eating. Thank God for my professor's assistant who supplied the lost moniker: lilet balatong. Lilet Balatong! I hadn't eaten lilet balatong since I was a kid, I think. The lilet b. at the sanctuary wasn't all that great. But as I've said before, I like to eat memories, and I enjoyed the feeling of remembrance, of enjoying a bowl of warm lilet b. as a kid.

Yesterday's lunch also featured the versatile mung bean. Munggo is one of my all-time favorites. I can eat munggo every day. In fact, I just had munggo for lunch today. But yesterday's munggo was possibly the best munggo I've tasted. The beans were crushed into a smooth and silky stew with dried fish, ampalaya leaves, and chicharong hibe (dried and fried baby shrimps: infanticide never tasted better) adding layers of salty/bitter flavor.

But balatong, or any food for that matter, also only tastes as good as the company you keep while eating. And the people at the sanctuary made for some of the finest company I've been blessed to dine with. They weren't particularly articulate, and conversations weren't punctuated by middle-class, intelligentia wit. It was more the feeling that I was surrounded by good, decent people who, despite being villified and violated by those in power, and forced to leave their homes and family and go into hiding, are still able to smile and say, with conviction, that things will get better.

I guess mush can sometimes be good for the soul.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Aftermath

Seconds after I post awful haiku, I am siezed by a longing to go back to Malansing Street, Malabon, go to all the sari-sari stores littering it and buy me some Zeb-Zeb, Pom-Poms, putoseko, nougat, fake white rabbit, fake tootsie roll, and chicharong parihaba. Maruya I could buy at the wet market or fried lumpia for my dose of veggies. Wash it down with pink scramble from one of the vendors along the road. Go back home with bacteria and a virus or two, tummy full of air, and mind full of memories. That may or may not, in fact, have happened. It may turn out that I actually ate Zeb-Zeb, not in Malansing Street, Malabon, but in Road 4, Pag-asa, Quezon City. Right now, though, I'm feeling Malansing. So Malansing I remember.

A couple of months ago, I was in Tatalon with some classmates. We were walking around, touring the place like the upstart wannabe community psychologists we were so horribly aware we are, when I spotted Pom-Poms dangling from the window of a sari-sari store. I did not react calmly. I remember there was frantic pointing and a jump for joy. It was exciting to come across a snack I used to enjoy as a child. Granted, the packaging was different (now orange where before it was a sunny, summery yellow with blue lettering) and the cheese curls were bigger (and, again, orange where before they were smaller and a sunny, summery yellow). But the sentiment was strong as ever.

I bought some and as I opened a Pom-Pom, a classmate said, "Pahingi. Gusto kong matikman ang alaala mo." Whoever said it's impossible to purvey profundity via childhood chicheria has obviously never met a left-leaning activist/community worker/masseuse/alternative lifestyle guru before.

As I had my first taste of Pom-Poms in possibly a decade, maybe even more, I was overcome by a feeling of... blandness. Yon na yon? Evidently, yes. That was it. Fake cheese and air. And all I have to show for it is bad poetry. Well, that and the realization that all the foods I ate when I was younger and more foolish/wiser will never taste as perfect as they do in my memories. My classmate was right. It is the memory we taste. Not the food. Lord, definitely not the food.

I guess I like to eat memories.

Bad Haiku, Bad!


Popcorn or cornick?
I ponder as my teeth crack,
Why can't it be both?


Fake cheese on my hand
I miss the crunch of empty--
Full of air am I.


Sa Malansing lang
ako nakatikim ng
Putosekong Pink.

(These awful haikus are brought to you by Childlike Lament for Snacks That Don't Taste As Good As I Remember.)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

My Favorite De Latas

1. Purefoods Chorizo de Bilbao. Salty, sour, spicy, sweet, greasy, fatty, yummy. Kinda pricey though.
2. Purefoods Corned Beef. Beef without the aftertaste. Not stringy. Not runny. (I can't imagine having eaten any other brand of corned beef but when I was younger, I used to eat King Sue corned beef. Probably not a good idea now, as I remember it being too wet. Eesh.).
3. Phillips Meat Loaf. Comfort food on a budget.
4. Reno Liver Spread. Can't be beat. Hot pan de sal and a good coffee short of breakfast heaven.
5. Century Tuna Hot and Spicy. The best tuna. In a sandwhich, or pasta. Or with rice. Ginisa or straight from the can. The only canned fish that rocks.
6. SPAM. Spam, spam, spam!
7. Purefoods Chinese Style Luncheon Meat. Takes the place of Ma-Ling. (I don't think Ma-Ling has ever recovered from that smear campaign during the 90s that implicated it in serious cases of food poisoning. Then again, maybe that's just all in my head. Basta, I remember I stopped buying and eating Ma-Ling during the 90s 'cause I didn't want to die. But I still call luncheon meat Ma-Ling. As in Purefoods Ma-Ling.).
8. Phillips, Purefoods, or Gusto Vienna Sausage. Fried or straight from the can. I love sausages.
9. Victoria's Spanish Style Bangus. Uh-uhm! Aces. I'm not a big bangus fan like my sister (who orders daing na bangus when she eats out. Who the hell orders daing na bangus in a restaurant?!? I swear, that will always remain a mystery to me.) but I love the timpla of this de lata. And the bangus meat is soft, the bangus fat melting.
10. Purefoods Chicken Bits. Good for chicken potato salad.

I'm hungry.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with Gina where she told me that Hollywood films are like canned goods. You like them. You enjoy them. But they don't really call to you. They're not rooted in your personal and cultural experience. At that time, I agreed with her. But having just listed my favorite de latas, I think I may have to disagree a little bit. Not about Hollywood films, obviously.

Eating de lata is a deep, integral part of my experience as a Filipino. I will always eat de lata. I will always love de lata. De lata will always call to me: Come. Eat me. Let me fill you right up. I'm not asking to take the place of good, old-fashioned home-cooking. All I want is my own space in your cupboard...

I'm hungry.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Spicy Ham and Tuna Spaghetti

Do you like your pasta sauce red or white? I like mine orange. Spicy hot orange. Yum!

I served my family this pasta dish a couple of years ago. It blew their taste buds to bits, if I may say so myself. My professor and classmates in Family Therapy class also got a taste when I brought some on the last day of class. Certified box-office gold. My writer friends gobbled it up when I cooked it for them. Aces.

This pasta dish rocks. It has never not rocked. It probably never will. I think it's because of the orange sauce. Feel free to find out for yourself.


1 kg spaghetti (I use del monte italiana)
1 large can century hot and spicy tuna (drained of oil)
1 large can whole mushrooms (sliced into quarters)
1 250 g pack ham (diced)
your favorite cheese (I use cheddar or parmesan, depending on the state of my wallet. Leftover queso de bola works really well too.)

For the orange sauce:

1 kg italian style spaghetti sauce (I use clara ole)
1 250 ml tetrapack all-purpose cream (I use alaska crema)
garlic and onion (minced), according to preference
salt and pepper, to taste
your favorite herbs/spices (I use mccormick basil, terragon, italian seasoning, and/or pizza seasoning)

For the Garlic Bread:
your favorite bread (I use pan de sal, rye bread, or baguette)
real garlic or garlic powder
olive oil or butter

1. Fry ham. Set aside. Drain oil.
2. Saute garlic and onion. Return ham to pan. Add tuna and mushrooms. Stir-fry.
3. Add spaghetti sauce. Let simmer.
4. Add cream, herbs/spices, salt and pepper. Let simmer. Set aside.
5. Cook spaghetti. Then toss in sauce.
6. In a large baking dish, layer the spaghetti and cheese. Blitz in oven til cheese bubbles.
7. For the garlic bread, mix olive oil or butter with garlic or garlic powder. Blitz in microwave for about 10 seconds. Spread mixture onto bread. Grill/toast for 4-5 minutes.
8. Take out the huge plates. Pasta is not meant to be served on a platito.
9. Turn TV on and enjoy. Or, turn on family chika. Or, both.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Yesterday, I had my first 99% almost no meat vegetarian meal. It was lunch at The Sicilian Express in T.Morato with my friend Gina. Who wanted to eat veggies. For what reason it was not so clear. Or I forget, I don't know.

I must clarify that we did not expressly, consciously, decide to eat a full-on vegetarian meal. Gina just wanted some veggies (at least that's what she told me) to eat for lunch. That did not bother me as I, too, have been known to eat veggies with my meat. And The Sicilian Express is not exactly Bodhi. It's a nice Italian restaurant that has both flora and fauna in its menu. So, really, it posed no threat.

We had a nice lunch, actually. We ordered the sicilian salad which had about five token chicken bits to make up for the mangoes. (Mangoes in a salad is not a good idea for me. But, strangely enough, the salad worked. The chicken with the greens was a good combination). We also had a margarita pizza, which is basically just cheese, tomatoes, and basil. At every step, Gina asked if I was ok with the foods we were to order. And strangely, I put up no fight. I said yes, every time. And actually meant it.

It was only later that I realized certain things: 1) I just ate pizza without pasta; 2) I just ate a no-meat, instead of an all-meat, pizza; and 3) I just had a meal that had more plants than animals in it. And I'm not even upset about it!

Contrast this with 4-5 years ago when Clarsy and I had lunch at Struan and Tang's in Power Plant. I ordered fried squid, and almost pitched a fit when the waiter brought out a plate of breaded squid with brown rice. BROWN rice. For all you geniuses out there, brown rice is healthier--and, therefore, less tasty--than white rice. (The word "rice" in the previous sentence sure is a landmine. Imagine if I substitute "a" for "i". That wouldn't make for an egalitarian statement. Good thing I'm just taking about race, este, rice. Rice.).

What the f--?! This is brown rice, I said, because I sometimes like to state the obvious. Clarsy, quick to do some psychological bullshitting work, said, "Yes, but the squid is fried." I swear, that made me feel a lot better. A lot. Of course, looking back, I can admit that we skated around the very real possibility that the squid was fried in olive oil (which, again for the geniuses amongst us, is generally considered to be the healthiest of oils, notwithstanding the threat from the extra virgin coconut oil camp). We did not acknowledge that possibility as I was already overwrought bordering on queenish.

Given my history of aversion to healthy eating, my reaction to yesterday's almost vegetarian meal might seem to be a tad uncharacteristic. A more bochog-typical reaction would have been to end my friendship with Gina. Yes, over meat (or the lack thereof). Instead, I affirmed a good friendship over a surprisingly good meal. And I enjoyed myself.

I think I'm realizing that eating veggies, and eating healthy, may not be so bad after all. I'm not about to give up my meats. And I'm not about to eat a 100% vegetarian meal anytime soon. I am too much a hedonist, and for some strange reason, I cannot imagine experiencing nerve-sizzling pleasure when all you eat are plants. (Case in point, the Epicureans of Rome. Who binged all they wanted. I doubt if they gorged themselves on lettuce.). Yesterday's meal was pleasant. Nice. But if I had had meat as usual, then the meal would have been just as exciting, dramatic, inspiring as the conversation that accompanied it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Excuse Me While I B.A.R.F.

Was praying with my family, ie my dad, 2 sisters, and our kasambahay Daya, last Saturday (Mama was out making money, which can be a form of prayer, I suppose, if you do it religiously and ritualistically. Ahem.). While it was not an unusual occurence for mi familia to pray together, it had been a long time since the last group thanksgiving-slash-supplication. We (and by we, I really mean my eldest sister and my dad) just felt like saying thank you to God because we've been feeling especially blessed the past few days. So in a fit of Protestant gratitude, we prayed.

When it was my turn to pray, I felt fake because I hadn't prayed in a long time. A long time. Possibly years. The kind of prayer that requires sincerity, heartfelt gratitude, and more importantly, the acknowledgement of God's control over one's life. I've become too William Ernest Henley, too "Master of My Fate", for that. Nevertheless, I prayed. It was sincere enough but I knew too that I was just regurgitating many of the words. And then... out of nowhere, the words came out of my mouth, "Lord, help each one of us carve our own paths."

That sounded so foreign to me, and a little bit jarring. Not because I've never said or thought about carving one's own path (in fact, that's all I think about) but because I had never ever prayed it. I was brought up to believe that a Christian could never be a Humanist and vice versa because to be humanist is to assert man's inferiority to no one (much less to someone who remains unseen).

And yet there I was praying what can only be called a humanist's prayer. And while I was jarred for a microsecond, I felt good afterwards. Imagine that. One can be a Humanist Christian, I suppose, or a religious academic, one who prays in a scholarly (seemingly secular) manner. Sometimes, I wonder at my Westernized academic orientation with its inordinate fondness for creating artificial dichotomies. As if we don't live our lives in a fairly integrated (and unconscious) manner. (Don't you just love the mind? It's a lean, mean, rationalizing machine. Hehe.)

What does prayer have to do with FOOD? Uh... it's food for the soul?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

THE BEST... Attention: Aly!

... sisig is still Gerry's sisig. Dencio's rocks too. Congo Grill's tastes unique 'cause they put mayo in it. For store-bought sisig, Monterey's is tops. Haven't tried Purefoods... Speaking of Purefoods, their chorizo bilbao is Y.U.M.M.Y. Mahal nga lang.

... veggie balls can be found in Pag-asa, Quezon City. In an eskinita somewhere there. I remember it's the road leading to the wet market. It's a regular fishball stand in front of a house. But instead of fishballs, they sell their own homemade veggie balls made of diced carrots, onions, and garlic, and fried like regular fishballs. They look like mini veggie kwek-kweks. I ate a lot of them as a kid growing up in Pag-asa. It was either fishballs or these. Those were good times. Good times.

What are the chances?

I was googling Viggo Mortensen. Heh. I was googling Viggo Mortensen. That sounds funny. Pervy and funny. Actually, I was googling a poem that he wrote. So I typed the words "Communion by Viggo Mortensen" on

One of the links read "From federation to Communion: The History of the Lutheran World Federation." It was a link to an Amazon page selling a theology book. By Aragorn! How dorky hot is that?! Not only does the guy write wonderful poetry ("You ordered me off my knees. Wasn't to beg that I knelt: only to see you once from below." Say it with me. Aww.), steal scenes in movies, play the best Lucifer ever!, take brilliant photos, and take off his clothes in his movies, he also writes about God and organized religion?! What in heaven's name?!

Say it with me. AWW.

A scene flashed before my eyes. Me and Viggo. Excuse me, I mean, Viggo and I. The two of us, loungingly artfully artlessly in a cozy study. Books, papers, pens, portraits, art and literature all around us. A glass of wine in his right hand. And his left stroking my hair. We talk about art, religion, and science as we feed each other melon balls wrapped in prosciutto. We talk randomly. Yet we make sense.

He says things like, "Sola scriptura. Scripture alone. But whose scripture?"

I put forth my theory of the biopsychosocioeconomic dimensions of the construct we call Love. To which, my God, he is able to contribute insights from evolutionary science. Insights that fit nicely within his Lutheran framework!

We reach our own integration of art, science, and religion, a syncresis of seemingly contradictory ways of knowing and being...

End scene.

I clicked on comments to see if Viggo's book is any good and apparently, it is a lucid treatise on the Lutheran World Federation. Apparently too, some Viggo fans bought the book, thinking much the same as me, that they were buying a book on Lutheranism that Aragorn wrote.

Except it wasn't Viggo Mortensen who wrote it. Well, it was Viggo Mortensen, but another Viggo Mortensen. The Viggo Mortensen who wrote that theology book is not Viggo Mortensen, actor/poet/artist/hottie. It's Viggo Mortensen, theologian and religious historian, who may or may not be a hottie. We don't know.

End scene indeed. End fantasy.

Oh well. Viggo Mortensen, actor/poet/artist/hottie, still is pretty cool. I never would have thought there'd be 2 Viggo Mortensens, though. It's not like Viggo's a common name.

What does Viggo Mortensen, or 2 Viggo Mortensens, have to do with food? Nothing much. Except that a) they're both Danish (like the pastry) and b) I could eat Viggo Mortensen, actor/poet/artist/hottie, with a spoon. Yum!

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Best...

... fishballs are sold along the intersections of K-I and K-8th and K-I and K-7th streets, Kamias, QC. All fishballs are the same (since they're procured from the same smelly, fishy place, anyway). It's the sauce that makes the difference. The sauce used by vendors along K-I, particularly in front of the Holy Family Parish Church tastes different from your regular fishball sauce. Usually, the sauce for fishballs (which, according to a vendor I talked to, is made up of ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, and spices) tastes more ketchupy, if you're lucky. If you aren't, it just tastes like burnt flour with siling labuyo. But the K-I sauce retains the sweet-sourness of the soy sauce. The color is darker (which probably reflects the greater proportion of soy sauce) and the texture is smoother. It's the best sauce I've ever had with my fishballs. (The next best fishballs are found along Katipunan, but they come nowhere near Kamias').

... isaw baboy, bituka, betamaks are found in UP-Diliman. If you're a true-blue UP student, you know what of I speak. 2 places vie for the best when it comes to isawan in UP, the one beside the post office and the one near balay kalinaw. Both are at opposite ends of the road along which the SC is located. The isaw at these places are crispy, crunchy, and clean! (At least, they taste clean, and I've never had strep throat eating them. Which is not what I can say about the isaw in Malansing Street, Malabon. I made the mistake of eating isaw there a few days before my 17th birthday. It gave me the worst case of sore throat. Ever. Never eat isaw in Malansing Street, Malabon. It might kill you.). The sauce they dip the isaw in rocks too. Near the post office, the isaw sauce is sweeter. Near balay kalinaw, it's more vinegary. Both rock my tongue.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


1988. 4th grade. My 10th year as a human girl. This was a seminal year for me. This was the year I first learned to swear, graduating from the clean “Shaks!” and its variants “Shackers!” and “Shakening potpot!” to the A-Grade filth of “P.I.” (P.I. mo, P.I. niya, P.I. niyong lahat!). When I first realized I couldn’t keep a secret, blurting out to my whole family that my best friend just had her first period. And when I first got a taste of hotdogs fried in ketchup.

Frying hotdogs in ketchup is entirely different from frying hotdogs then putting ketchup on them. Ketchup, in the latter case, is mere condiment, an option that may be done away with. In the former, ketchup is sauce, an integral part of the dish, a necessary and sufficient condition (to rip off Carl Rogers; for more of his ideas, check out “The Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Therapeutic Change”). While I can claim credit for this recipe, I have to give props to the mother of my Grade 4 classmate, Christine Joy Caraig, who prepared this dish for Christine Joy’s lunchbox. On hindsight, I don’t think I even got to taste Christine Joy’s hotdogs. I just know that I saw them and they looked different—and tasty!—swimming in oily ketchup. I couldn’t wait to make my own. So I did and I’ve been eating HFIK since then, especially when I’m in the mood to jazz up regular hotdogs.

Behold, my recipe for HFIK:

3-4 hotdogs, chopped into bite-sized pieces
3 tbsp* tomato ketchup (you can use spicy or sweet, depending on your taste)
1 tbsp soy sauce (you can also use Worcestershire sauce or Knorr seasoning, just adjust sugar)
1 tsp brown sugar

1. Fry hotdogs according to preference (some like it raw-looking, others like it almost burned). Set aside.
2. Combine ketchup, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Mix and season with pepper. (You may also add your favorite spices like basil or crushed red pepper flakes).
3. Pour the ketchup mixture into the same pan (but with most of the oil removed) and cook over low heat until the sauce bubbles.
4. Return hotdogs to pan. Cook for a few minutes, allowing the ketchup to smother the hotdogs.
5. Serve with fried rice.
6. Turn TV on and enjoy.

*Amounts are arbitrary. Consider them guides, not set values.

Friday, August 18, 2006


This is my earliest memory of a perfect meal: I was five years old, maybe six. Doesn’t matter, I was young. I was home while my older sisters were in school. It was lunchtime and my mother, for one reason or another, didn’t cook lunch like she usually did. Instead, she gave me five pesos and a Tupperware bowl, with instructions to go outside, walk to the nearest eskinita, and buy myself five pesos’ worth of fish balls. Fish balls. That was to be my lunch. Not my mom’s yummy adobo with the sauce thick and slightly sweet and the pork fat soft and almost melting, just the way I liked it. Not her hotdog omelet fried to oily perfection. Not her specialty macaroni sopas, with chicken and hotdog bits drowning in milky, margarine-yellowed soup.

Lunch was fish balls. I couldn’t have been more ecstatic.

At that time, fish balls cost only ten centavos apiece so the five pesos my mom gave me bought 50 pieces. 50 fish balls, drowning in a sweet-hot-sour sauce made of parts ketchup and soy sauce, sugar and sili. All of it mine. I remember doing a happy dance as I walked home carrying my Tupperware of fish balls. I remember my mom’s indulgent smile as she watched me wolf down fish balls and rice.

This was only my first perfect meal. I have enjoyed the gastronomic pleasure of more than one perfect meal in my life. Granted, from the aforementioned example, it does not seem too difficult to please my taste buds. In fact, one may say—quite rightly—that I am ridiculously easy to please. One may say that I’ll eat anything. And one would be right—crass and rude, but right.

I am not a gourmet. When it comes to food, I believe in equal opportunity for all food groups to be consumed, nay, devoured by moi. Well, maybe fruits and veggies are at a slight disadvantage… And although I can be finicky about my pizza and pasta, foods I love so much I consider them to be a separate food group, on the whole, I eat indiscriminately.

So when it comes to the perfect meal, or in my case, perfect meals, it isn’t so much a matter of taste or how good the food is as it is a matter of passion, of the emotions food evokes. The perfect meal is also about memory, and discovery. Take, for instance, another perfect meal I had when I was an easily pleased child: pan de sal (Filipino bread) with ketchup as palaman (filling).

The scene unfolded thus: I was looking inside the refrigerator, pan de sal in one hand, searching for palaman. A glance at the condiment section revealed no mayonnaise, no chiz whiz, no peanut butter, no coco jam. In other words, no palaman. Since, to me, pan de sal without palaman is like kanin (rice) without ulam (viand), I had to look for something to spread onto my pan. As if fated, my young, easily pleased eyes fell on a bottle of Papa banana ketchup. An image came to mind, of an older cousin sticking his index finger in a pan de sal, pretending it was a hotdog sandwich. New knowledge settled in my ken like a Catholic-style epiphany… Ah, anything can be palaman, if one wishes it. Mayo, chiz whiz, peanut butter, coco jam. Yes, even index finger. And if index finger, why not ketchup? Why not, indeed. Faultless logic and almost mystical intuition, the same stuff scientific discoveries are made of.

I remember the glee with which I poured a huge dollop of Papa onto my pan de sal, the joy I felt as I bit into my ketchup sandwich, the giggle that escaped my lips even as ketchup dribbled onto my chin. It was the perfect meal, messy and joyous and full of discovery.

I don’t eat ketchup sandwiches anymore. (These days I prefer Mang Tomas Lechon Sauce). And I have had near-perfect meals that involved relatively more sophisticated foods. But I find that, invariably, the best meals I’ve had, I was eating cheap, simple, hearty foods that filled my stomach—without wiping out my pocket—and made my heart glad, whether it’s create-your-own pizza and oily carbonara at Napoli’s or sweet-spicy pork barbecue and salted egg at Beach House in UP.

So much has been said about emotional eating. Mainly, it has been blamed for the increasingly high incidence of weight problems. Diet experts say that the only goal of eating is, or at least should be, nutrition and nothing else. Eat to live, as the old folks liked to say. Therefore, eat routinely and without emotion because emotions invest food with a purpose higher than mere sustenance and staving off of physical hunger.

Many people are embarrassed to admit that they, like every other human being on the planet, do eat emotionally and for reasons that have nothing to do with nutrition. Eating, much like other biological imperatives like sleep and sex, is motivated by things that go beyond the physical. When we eat emotionally, therefore, we assert our ability to push the limits of our biology, even to transcend it. This is admittedly a roundabout way of saying… I am not embarrassed. I admit it. I do eat emotionally. And I never quite understood why I should eat only to live. I eat with joy, with glee, with passion, with love. I eat as I live. There’s nothing embarrassing about that.


Kain na!

Hi, hello, and mabuhay!

You have strayed into Bogchi ni Bochog, my blog about all things gastronomic. This is my first attempt at blogging. For a while I had been hesitant to create a blog because the idea of having an online journal and laying bare my soul to virtually any curious cat with a few hours to kill did not sit well with me. But I liked the idea of having my own space on which to dump any thoughts or, shucks, feelings I may have about a particular subject. But because I do not wish to write extensively about my self and my life in a Dear Diary way, I decided I needed a topic I could wax endlessly about.

Enter FOOD.

Now, if you are a friend of mine, or if you are family... Heck, even if you've only known me for a minute, you would know how much I love food. I'll say it again. I love food. Food is my friend. Food is right up there with Claire, my best pal from college. Right up there with my Ate My and Ditchie. Right up there with writing. Psychology and my grad studies do not even come close to Food. If I were stuck in a boat in a raging storm with food and You and I could only save one, I probably wouldn't save You.

Food, good food, is as necessary to me as punctuation is to a run-on sentence. I love to eat. And when I'm not eating, I think about eating. Sometimes, I have deep, existential thoughts centering on food and eating, and I feel so strongly, keenly about it.

So there's my topic. And here's my blog, Bogchi ni Bochog. This is also the name of my dream eatery which, in my mind, I shall put up in place of Arcade (which I shall have leveled and demolished, in true capitalist fashion, haha!) in my alma mater, UP-Diliman. Bogchi ni Bochog, the eatery, shall be a place where students can eat cheap but good food (all of it my recipes), hang out, and read books from the extensive collection of social science and fiction tomes (tomes, baby, tomes!). I even have a menu laid out already. But that's for another post.

Meanwhile, I welcome You, curious cat, to my humble kitchen. May you find here good thoughts, good feelings, and maybe a recipe or two.

Kain Na!