heads up!

March 7, 2017

i recently watched a travel show which reminded me I eat animal brains.  I’ve tried that of a sheep but prefer pig: every time we have lechon at our house we crack the skull open and seek out the creamy meat – we usually have it with calamansi.  I also like pig ears but cheek meat (what little there is) is the most flavoursome for me.

Admittedly, I’ve never had (and probably never will have)  cow’s brain as I’m wary of contracting mad cow’s disease.

food glorious food

February 20, 2017

my family and I spent a month in America. We all gained weight and had our waistlines expand (more so me). It’s quite understandable that some people I know who now live in the US are “healthier”.  Even if most of the food is too salty or too sweet for my palate, the food which I consumed was quite “rich” and caused me to put on a few kilos (although I find pounds a much more meaningful measure).

I do enjoy (and seek out) food.  I find the word foodie overused and abused.  I prefer the previously coined term of gastronaut because I find the implication of exploration appropriate.  Perhaps it’s me just being pedantic or wanting to differentiate myself.

Our niece recently (and temporarily) moved to Melbourne which made me think of the places I used to eat in a few years back as a student.  Hopefully, the food they serve is still delicious.  Mekong at Swanston in the city used to have “decent” Vietnamese Pho – so much so that a former US president tried it.  Enri’s at Richmond is one of only a handful of Argentinian restaurants in OZ – although it was the chicken in brie sauce I liked.  Later on there’s dancing on tables (admittedly I was inebriated to even attempt this).  Brunetti at Lygon Street (although I think their other branches now but from my experience the original is still the best) is a “good” place for desserts and coffee.  Casa Del Gelato at the edge of Lygon where I used to go for a treat.  It’s been open for nearly 40 years and was full even during winter.   I proposed to my wife just outside the shop with a makeshift ring – a solo diamond earring set in a cable “twistee”.

I’m looking forward to our nephew and his girlfriend taking us to sample various food trucks – I’ve always believed good food is good food regardless of “pedigree”.

waiting to exhale

January 5, 2017

Saw Birdman a few nights ago on free-to-air tv and it made me think.  Is this blog a feeble attempt at relevance?  I don’t really use FB (because like internet browsing it can lead you down a time-consuming rabbit hole) or tweet (because I have verbal diarrheoa).  Although it’s very hard for me to type, writing does help with my sanity.

I am used to working two jobs (usually one full-time and another as a casual) and now I have none.  Many say I’m “Iucky” because I can’t help around the house anymore and have a valid “excuse”, am I really that “fortunate” to lose my balance and co-ordination? Do they even stop to think maybe I don’t want to be on the lounge and watch all day.  Forget walking, what I would have given for my speech to be left intelligible (now it’s only my wife that mostly understands me) so I could have tried to hang on to my last job for longer.

I wouldn’t mind wearing glasses but instead I need a handheld magnifier to read “small” fonts because I’m legally blind (although I can still see).  It’s getting around with a walker that most concerns me about losing my eyesight.  I wish I could adjust the size and contrast of subtitles to suit my preferences.

There’s still a lot I want to see but most sites are pretty much inaccessible.  That’s perhaps why my interest in food is more pronounced.  I can’t even drink a hot beverage on my own (and I really love coffee).    Sure, I no longer cook nor bake (I was rather fond and quite “good” at both) but I can still enjoy eating – although I now refrain from bones and soup (as they are “tricky” for me).  I’ve given up alcohol since I use a straw to drink (since I don’t want to be easily intoxicated with all the air I ingest and drinking wine is just stupid).  Although, I suspect, I would’ve been naturally weaned off the stuff as my wife’s allergic and I’ve got a son who’s still too young to drink. Moreover, I’m not really a fan of waiting for my food to cool down; or expecting for a straw or a bowl (because I need them to feed myself independently) to come as those around me begin eating.

It’s the ordinary things I find troublesome like stairs, buttons, inclines and writing implements.  It takes me longer to dress, brush my teeth manually (automated brushes often have small bristle “footprints” and I can’t floss), cut my finger nails (I can no longer groom my own toe nails) and use an electric shaver. The only reason I can go to the toilet and bathe myself is because of the equipment (a raiser and a shower chair & bars respectively).  Aside from not being comfortable, I find the concept of adult diapers disgusting.  Also, I’ve got to pee more often as I can no longer hold my bladder.  Don’t get me started on how toilet doors open and the cramped spaces – poor design often results from a lack of empathy or thought.

I know it shouldn’t bother me but I used to be a “fast” walker for my height. Now because I walk very slowly and carefully, I lag very much behind my family.  Maybe it’s a thing I got so used to. I can no longer play basketball which was my main form of recreation and exercise (and stress relief).

I hate it when I’m told to think of others who struggle more than me.  It makes me even “sadder” for them and not grateful that my condition could be worse (and don’t feel “better” at all).

I don’t usually whinge but I’ve been told in order to truly move on I need to vent on occasion – so pardon the collection of complaints, I’ll try to avoid such posts.

two out of three ain’t bad

December 17, 2016

Teague Ezard is one of my of my favourite chefs (long before he appeared on Masterchef Australia –  although in fairness, they did introduce me to a number of chefs).  We recently tried Ezard while we were in Melbourne because we really liked the food at Black in Sydney.  Both were good but we preferred the latter.  Will try Gingerboy the next time we go back to Melbourne.

Almost had to cancel our booking due to uncontrollable circumstances but managed as I was insistent since Rockpool and Guillaume’s closed this year. When I can, will try to eat at restaurants on my list given the opportunity (and make plans for others).

Studying and living in Australia reinforced in me the notion that you like what you like.   I’m not a fan of the term: “guilty pleasure”.  I believe enjoyment is personal and shouldn’t be a social construct of what is deemed “hot or not”(understanding fully since I was also a teenager).  I consider trendmakers and influencers (and even role-models to a certain extent) as starting points and it is, ultimately, up to your own tastes or what you derive pleasure from (or what you believe). You and not external sources should decide (although they can be invaluable guides).  It’s important to find individuals you can relate to at some level.  Maybe it’s “easier” for me since I was never part of the “in” crowd.

reality bites

November 26, 2016

i’m not exactly a die-hard fan of Nigella (it must be because I’m watching episodes of her shows lately on DVR) – guess I’ve never really held an individual or a team over the rest (maybe it’s just my nature or how I was brought up).  But like an artist who releases a seminal record; her “Bites” series I truly applaud.  I’ve seen her other series (“Nigellisima”, “Forever Summer” and parts of “Feasts” and “Express”).  I’m not really obsessed with her but can understand why some are (and why individuals with OCD or with time to spare might not).

I think it’s her love of books, cooking “philosophies” and her dry sense of humour I find alluring.  It’s not only her volumes of cook books but her hand-scribbled notes and her ability and willingness to make a recipe her own that differentiates her. Our mutual fondness for chilies and thyme does not hurt.

Maybe it’s the Asian in me (political correctness aside) that agrees with her that French cooking tends to be about the chef and Italian cooking tends to be about the food.  I tend not to discriminate based on the cuisine: tasty is tasty I, generally, will try it first before I form an opinion.  Bizarre foods (I’m Filipino after all) are not necessarily a deal-breaker but previous pets or experiences (like most) delay or inhibit my gastronomical adventurousness.

My palette is a result of my overdeveloped sense of smell and the ability of my tongue to differentiate (it did not hurt that my father exposed me to a lot of “unusual” things), it’s simply a fact and not really a result of other things like snobbishness. I can be very particular about how something tastes; it’s not be difficult or uppity but simply being a “slave” to that reality.

I can see why my “niece” says that American cooking shows (by and large) seem artificial and contrived to her. There is something authentic about Bites.  Like the shows of Anthony Bourdain (in my mind, it’s a travel show with food in it to better understand the culture – I would probably still watch it even without the food due to the writing ), maybe it’s the “naturalness” that lends itself to being genuine.  The kitchen should not be like a display home (unless one is a neat freak):  in my mind, there’s nothing wrong with it being orderly but it should feel used and not antiseptic.

I consider Heston (and Alton Brown – perhaps it’s the geek in me but as a student I wasn’t fond of Chemistry) a star but pretence is a result of creativity (and not vice-versa) but not only is Nigella a “domestic goddess”, I find her very practical (as evidenced by the “shorter” time most of her recipes take).  In a world of food snobs and food porn propagated by Instagram, I still believe that the proof of the pudding (the pun was unintentional), is in the eating. Sure, presentation is vital (as we also eat with our eyes) but taste is still paramount.

food, glorious food

August 3, 2013

Recently, my wife had her regular check-up after our recent trip to Manila.  Her cholesterol levels were significantly higher even if she refrained from eating lechon. It consistently goes up every time we go back – there’s a positive correlation so to speak.  That just shows you what our food’s like and how it’s prepared.  I wonder what my number is after each trip.

last Sunday, we took my wife’s cousin and her husband for lunch at Stamps in Mitcham.  It was to treat them for staying at our house while we were away.  Also, it was an excuse for us to eat out. I’m thrifty but I don’t mind spending on food.  The way I view food is not purely utilitarian: you eat just not to live. It’s okay not to like things if you’ve at least tried them.  That said, certain things are an acquired taste so you need to exercise some judgement.

I think delayed gratification can pay dividends.  I save so that I can afford what I want.  Little things eventually add up.  I draw distinctions on pure needs versus mere wants. I set aside funds for the future and for a rainy day – not just hoping the present will go on without some hitch.  You can’t only think of the here and now but also consider the long-term.  We are not as invincible as we think so we better be prepared.

It’s partly who I am but I think my parents and grandparents helped imbue fiscal responsibility.  Even at a tender age I was taught to use money wisely and to not just look for bargains but real value.  My life experiences also help.  In school, I saw some of my classmates practically “throw” money away.  At home, I was fortunate enough to see our financial standing improve – without the earlier days, I would be hard-pressed to be “grounded”.  I’ve heard of stories in Ayala Alabang of individuals who found it hard to adjust to “diminished” fiscal resources.

I always used to wonder why I was given a “lump sum” for uni while my other siblings received weekly allowances.  I guess it can be viewed as vote of confidence – they knew I would have a go at making the money last.  In the end, I managed the funds well enough last for my entire stay at college.  Moreover, I “stretched” my meager student’s stipend to help subsidise local trips with my now wife during breaks.  There is a method to my madness.

I’m also learing hot to “cheat” in oder to bring balance.  As with most things. moderation seems to be the key.