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 google.com.

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!