Now where were we?

eggplantJPG

So this was my lunch today. I was checking out the fridge for what to eat (and also with the idea of planning dinner) when I spied a lonely eggplant in the corner of the veggie crisper. Voila! Lunch dilemma solved. I sliced it up, fried it and had it with leftover rice. Dipping sauce is made up of rice vinegar, soy sauce, chopped up garlic and a bit of salt. Yum!

While I was eating, I was reminded of the time D and I were making moussaka. Our version involved sliced up eggplant, which you then fry and layer with sliced cooked potatoes, sauteed minced lamb, white sauce and lots of cheese before baking everything to perfection in the oven. As we were frying the eggplant, I turned to D and said that in the Philippines, the fried eggplant alone with rice would be a complete meal by itself. D looked at me like I was crazy (but in that polite way Brits do it) and merely said that it didn’t sound appetising to him at all. I only laughed. Which got me thinking about the different ways we’re culturally conditioned to like certain things that someone from a different culture might find strange. For instance, D with the fried eggplant and rice (and probably a lot of Pinoy dishes; but this is probably more because of my cooking than the inherent qualities of the dish itself. I once cooked him adobo that had too much vinegar in it. He hates sour dishes, so that adobo probably, uhm, soured him on the dish forever!).

In my case, am still struggling to come to terms with his love for the quintessentially English baked beans on toast. We once had this for lunch at home in the UK, because we couldn’t be bothered to cook something and I was thinking then that it was a strange meal. I eventually mentioned that I found the combination of beans and toast was not what I’d consider a meal. He was amused and vowed not to serve it to me again, remarking that as a penniless university student, he practically lived on the stuff. I guess to him and many Brits, baked beans is a staple, same as rice for Filipinos. Or maybe instant pancit canton (fried noodles), if we’re going by the analogy of starving uni students. For me, that was the staple and even for a few years after uni, which is probably why I don’t eat it today. There’s a pack of six Lucky Me Instant Pancit Canton packets in the pantry that we bought last year (I think) and I haven’t opened it yet. I don’t know why I bought it. For nostalgia? Or a worst-case scenario for when the zombie apocalypse happens maybe and we’d need supplies? Who knows!

So what did you have for lunch?

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Got the fright of my life today. I was thinking that I really should update ye ol’ blog again so logged on to WordPress via my laptop and while I got into my blog, all other pages were white with only the WordPress logo on them! WordPress did not even recognize my account name and password! I know I don’t post as much any more but this incident has made me realize how important this blog is to me! Any ideas why I could’t access my blog from my laptop?

Better late than never…

It’s been a turbulent and hectic last quarter of 2015, which is why I haven’t posted anything for the past few months. I’m hoping 2016 will be kinder so I can write more.

In the meantime, to remind me that I should do just that, I am posting this link to an article in The Guardian: Ten Things I Learned About Writing from Stephen King. The advice is nothing we haven’t seen in other articles like this. But numbers 5 and 6 did resonate: Number 5 was, “Aim big. Or small.” and 6 was “Write all the time. Write a lot.” So these are what I will be doing more of this year. Hopefully I get to keep this promise.

See you soon!

Kitchen experiment: Tuna cakes

tuna cakes

What do you do when you’re not really feeling any of the leftovers in the fridge for lunch? If you’re like me, you experiment (so long as said recipe experiment wasn’t too complicated, of course! I don’t pretend to be a great cook).

So here was the situation: After a long morning wrestling with editorial plans, I was getting hungry. I could eat a banana or a tub of yogurt but that was not going to sustain me for long. A glance at the pantry showed that there were canned corned beef; I could make a quick corned beef hash (that’s always good, but we’ve had that recently). There were also packets of instant noodles (not an option, unless there wasn’t anything left to eat and we’re in a midst of a zombie apocalypse. Nothing against instant noodles, but I ate a lot of it growing up and during college. Also, I was trying to eat healthy)… Ooh, there’s canned tuna. Wonder what I can make with that. Quesadillas? An option, except that I have to open a packet of tortillas and only use one or two of them. I didn’t want to add to the leftovers in the fridge. Hmmm, tuna salad? Yes. But yikes, no bread.

Continue reading Kitchen experiment: Tuna cakes

August 21, 1983

“I have weighed all the virtues and faults of the Filipinos, and I have come to the conclusion that the Filipino is worth dying for.” — Benigno Aquino Jr (November 27, 1932 – August 21, 1983)

I remember it was a sunny and sleepy Sunday. The TV was on, as it always was when the whole family was home. I remember we just had lunch and I think my dad was reading, a tall Nescafe glass of instant black coffee nearby. I don’t remember what I was doing or what any of my brothers were doing. I do remember the breaking news, about Ninoy getting shot, not so much because of who he was, but because my dad sat up, told me to hush up. I remember he said, “Naloko na,” as we watched the news. I remember my mom was suddenly in the room, and both of them staring wide-eyed and riveted at the TV, shocked. I remember one of them said, “Hala, pinatay nila si Ninoy” [“They killed Ninoy”]. It must’ve been my mom. I remember asking who Ninoy was. I remember the grainy TV footage, a man in white going down the tarmac, I remember he stumbled, then toppled over. That was the first I’ve seen a real person getting shot on TV. I remember that everything seemed to be at a standstill. And suddenly quiet, as if everyone was holding their breath. It was an ordinary day. But Ninoy died and nothing was the same after. Change was in the air.

These words are beautiful

I deal in words every day — I’m a writer, after all. But there’s just something about Japanese that perfectly explains feelings we have a hard time with in English. Here are a few that I found beautiful:

Continue reading These words are beautiful

Into the deep end

Creatures from the Black Lagoon? Hmmm… these could be cousins. Meet our fascinating deep sea denizens in The Deep: Illuminating the Mysteries of the Deep Sea

The Deep 21

(above) One of over 40 specimens displayed, this is a Flapjack devilfish, a finned octopus that lives near the bottom of the sea floor. When they are caught, the muscles of the octopus retract, giving them their characteristic flat pancake shape

We had the chance to catch this fascinating exhibit at the ArtScience Museum last June. The whole exhibit is like a sci-fi movie come to life, if the sci-fi movie in question involves strange life forms. The creatures here are what are known as abyssal (from abyss)  because, well, they live deep below the sea, deeper than most divers venture. Looking at them brought home to me the realization that we still know so little about life in our seas, despite the fact that we’ve sent many manned expeditions to the moon, have gone exploring farther into our solar system that we’re now saying hello to Pluto, and have made inroads into technology that we can communicate with anyone in the world at the push of a few buttons. As these pictures show, our seas are still uncharted territory for the most part. They’re our version of terra incognita. Enjoy the images!

Continue reading Into the deep end