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?