Tuesday, August 28, 2007

EGG: A Tribute

It’s been a year—give or take a few days—since I decided to start this blog and inflict any remotely food-related thoughts I had on the 5 people who frequent it. That would be my 2 sisters, my friend, Aly… let me revise… the three people who frequent this blog.

I just realized that I haven’t written anything about my most favorite food in the world, Egg. I have been remiss. This mistake must be corrected. Tribute must be paid, and so it shall.

I love eggs. I love eggs by themselves or with other ingredients in a main dish. I love them fried sunny side up, or scrambled, or as omelet. I love them hard-boiled with a pinch of salt. I used to love them soft-boiled, almost raw and mixed in with rice, or completely raw stirred in with Sarsi or Mirinda True Orange. I love century eggs. Red (duck) eggs, quail eggs. I would love to try ostrich eggs someday.

If health weren’t an issue, I’d eat at least one egg, or one dish made with eggs, everyday for the rest of my life. But since I can’t do that—I want to live longer than 35 years old—I’ll just have to settle for making a happy list of EGGy foods I love. Making a list makes me happy. Eggs make me happy. Making a list about eggs just about gives me a happy:

1. Sausage Scramble at Heaven N’ Eggs. Heaven N’ Eggs is a place everyone should go to get an egg fix. My favorite is the Sausage Scramble, which is actually an omelet (because, as we know, when Filipinos say “scrambled egg,” we mean “omelet” and when we say “omelet,” we actually mean ground pork patties. It’s a crazy country we live in.) filled with chorizo, longganisa bits, and green and red bell peppers. My second favorite is the Macarena Scramble, an omelet filled with ground beef, chorizo bits, corn, and peppers. Both omelets come with a choice of rice or pancakes and fries or hash browns. The last time I ate at HnE, though, I was massively disappointed. They pretty much changed their menu, and not in a good way. Names have been changed because, basically, they cut some necessary ingredients from their main dishes. So the sausage scramble is just longganisa now. And I think the Macarena is gone. And the portions are smaller! Que barbaridad! Needless to say, I have not been back since early this year, I think. I hope HnE has shaped back up since then. I hate restaurants that make their serving sizes smaller. I’d rather pay more for the same amount of food than pay the same price for significantly less. Bad restaurant, bad.

2. Scrambled egg, with sardines, tomatoes, and onions. In Bicol, early this year, during counseling mission. Partnered with amazingly good and greasy Argentina corned beef. People in Bicol know how to cook. My mom also used to cook sardine scramble eggs when I was a kid. But, honestly, the cooking woman in Bicol did it better.

3. Egg Salad Sandwich. Hot pan de sal or crunchy baguette.

4. Century Egg. I had my first taste of what is basically rotten egg in high school. Had a great meal at a Chinese resto with my high school best pal and her family. I never thought something as gross looking could be as delicious.

5. Crab Foo Yong. (Tama ba spelling?)

6. Sunny Side Up, with longganisa, tocino, corned beef, or all 3, on the side.

7. Scrambled, with tinapang fish, or 555 Hot and Spicy Fried Sardines, or Spanish Sardines, or Spanish Style Bangus on the side.

8. Quail Eggs. Hard-boiled, with salt, sold along any street in packs of 5.

9. Hard-boiled chicken egg, with salt.

10. Red egg, with sliced tomatoes. Perfect with pork barbecue at the Beach House in UP. Or with adobo flakes. (This second one is a favorite of Ate My. She orders this at Chocolate Kiss. She cooked this one time at home too. It worked out well for my tongue).

11. Quiche.

12. Kwek-kwek! Hard-boiled quail eggs, dipped in orange batter, and deep-fried. With a sweet-sour-spicy sauce and/or garlic, onion, and chili-infused vinegar. Sold along any street corner.

13. Nido or Bird’s Nest Soup, with Quail Eggs. At any Chinese resto. Or instant, courtesy of Knorr.

14. Instant chicken or beef noodles with egg. Great for when you’re sick or… when you’re not.

15. Egg pie!

16. Egg pie!!

17. Egg pie!!!

18. Sausage McMuffin with Egg. At McDonald’s.

19. Omelet, with diced potatoes and onions. Homemade by my mom.

20. Omelet, with hotdog bits and grated cheese. My own invention. Quick and easy.

3 eggs
2-3 hotdogs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup grated cheese
salt, pepper, garlic powder, herbs to taste
oil for frying

1. Beat eggs. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Fry hotdogs. Set aside.
3. Pour beaten eggs. Season with garlic powder.
4. When eggs are almost cooked, add hotdogs then cheese.
5. Fold omelet if you can. If it breaks, no worries. It’s all good.
6. Sprinkle herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, or chives on top.
7. Serve and enjoy.

21. Liver Spread and Scrambled Egg Pan De Sal. Again, my baby.

4 large pan de sal, sliced to form buns (or 8 pcs sandwich bread)
2 eggs, scrambled
1 small can liver spread (Reno)

1. Optional: Toast pan de sal.
2. Smear a good amount of liver spread on each pan de sal face.
3. Divide scrambled eggs into 4 pieces. Sandwich one between each pan de sal bun.
4. Serve with hot coffee or hot chocolate or Milo.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Eleventh Commandment

I once had a pet duck named Coochie. He came from the province, via the North Luzon Expressway, to live with my family for what I thought was forever.

Forever, as it turned out, only lasted 5 days.

I did not question why a duck would travel four hours to live with people he did not know. And I wonder now, on hindsight, what made me so sure that Coochie was male. I realize that I never had evidence to prove it; his maleness was a fact I took on faith.

I also wonder why, if I believed him to be male, I nonetheless named him Coochie. Did I, in my 6-year-old wisdom, intuit that he was gay? Or was I setting him up for a lifetime of ribbing from other ducks? Naming a male duck Coochie, after all, is like naming a boy Joy. It’s a cruel exercise of power by the Namer over the Named.

Coochie, however, seemed neither aware nor caring of the political implications of gendered nomenclature. In fact, he seemed neither aware nor caring of anyone and anything but himself. Coochie, I remember, was not sweet and approachable like his name made him out to be. Like most ducks, he walked with a girly gait, feathery bottom swinging left and right like a ramp model. But his head was raised a tad too high, his beak a tad too upturned. Coochie was aloof. He had a wall around him like the biblical city, Judah. And I felt like an Assyrian—or was it a Philistine? Anyway, I felt like one of the thousand strong army of Judah haters who wanted to invade it. I wanted to break down Coochie’s wall.

I talked to Coochie a lot seeing as I couldn’t cuddle him. Because, really, how do you cuddle a duck? They’ll be wiggling and waddling all over the place. You’ll have feathers stuck to your clothes. And, frankly, ducks stink. Coochie, God bless him, was like every other duck in that regard. He stunk up the place, specifically the small laundry area of the apartment we lived in at the time.

I felt real affection for Coochie even though he did not seem to feel the same way. I guess I also liked the idea of talking to someone—or in this case, some animal—who I could pretend was listening.

I remember a time during Coochie’s 5-day stay with us, when I was mad at our Yaya, Ate Vilma. I don’t quite remember what I was angry about. I just remember being angry and petty. While she was doing the laundry, I talked to Coochie about her and said some mean things when she was within earshot—which was the whole time. She graciously let it slide, like water off a duck’s back. Coochie, as usual, couldn’t be bothered to care.

Coochie came on a Monday. He went on a Saturday. It was afternoon. I had just woken up from siesta. I went out of my room, down the stairs, only to find Coochie at the bottom. He lay in a small, blue batya. His neck was severed, his blood pooling around him like a ritual bloodletting gone wrong. The culprits, my uncle and cousin, looked up from their slaughtering of my duck and said nothing. No explanations, no reasons for the murder they had just committed.

I screamed and wailed like I had never before and never since in my life. They killed my duck and felt no guilt about it.

As it turned out, Coochie was never meant to be my duck. The five days he stayed with us was the grace period before his execution. They were fattening him up for the next day’s meal. Coochie was Sunday lunch.

It was the first meal I missed.

Twenty-three years later, I still don’t eat duck. It is my speed of light, my one absolute rule:

Thou shall not eat duck.

It is the one thing that keeps me from being a true connoisseur of Chinese food. As we all know, duck figures heavily in Chinese cuisine. Peking duck, grilled duck, fried duck, duck pancakes, duck dumplings, sweet and sour duck.

I never touch any of that. It is out of the question. I can eat balut even though it’s aborted duck fetus. But I won’t ever eat dead adult ducks, out of respect for the dead duck who was never truly mine but sure felt like it.

Sometimes I feel that it’s time to move on, especially when everyone keeps telling me that duck tastes really good, that its meat has more marbling, i.e. fat. Sometimes I think Coochie wouldn’t want me missing out on the quintessential Chinese dish. Maybe he wouldn’t want me suffering through an awkward, tortured conversation like this:

You love Chinese food?
I sure do!
Have you tried Peking duck? It’s awesome.
No, I haven’t.
Oh, come on! I thought you love Chinese food?

I don’t eat duck. I had a pet duck once. He died a horrible, violent death. No one told me he was Sunday lunch. They let me name him. NAME him! Only to kill him and offer him to me as FOOD! Like I would eat my pet! Who in their right mind would EAT their PET?!
Uh… I guess… no one…

That’s right. No one… Anyway… I don’t eat duck.

Other times, I think Coochie—wherever he is—could care less. He never cared before, why should he care now? It’s almost enough to make me want to reach out and spear a piece of duck on my fork and bring it to my open, waiting, salivating, mouth.

Coochie never asked for my respect. He never demanded it. He never even tried to earn it. But he had it anyway. He still does.

Thou shall not eat duck. It’s my eleventh commandment.

Thank God I never had a pet pig.