Sunday, August 20, 2006

Teleporting via Casserole

Some kind of art shot of a yellow pepper.












Dinner tonight will be sinigang. Last night, it was Bicol Express. A few days before that, we spent a night with friends , and as I was the only one who had time to cook beforehand, we chit-chatted around a table laden with fish kinilaw, chicken adobo, tomatoes and onions chopped and drizzled with a patis-based sauce, and, of course, steamed rice.

Yes, a funny thing happened when I moved to France: I learned to cook Filipino food.

My father would have a hard time believing it. We Lejanos love to eat, but the gift for working magic in the kitchen had somehow been limited to my Dad, my Mom, my sister Bel, and, later on, my brother-in-law Alvin. Bel's twin couldn't cook as well, but was her kitchen helper, the eldest sister didn't seem interested, and me, well, my father never liked eating in my apartment: "Pasta again?!" he'd complain. Quick and easy cooking it was for me, I had a career to pursue. Besides, I could always just drive over to spend the weekend with Mom and Dad if I felt the need for pinakbet and crispy pata.

These days, I'd have to buy a plane ticket to get back to Las Pinas. Nearer are a few Asian restaurants, but they serve food adapted to local tastes. I was probably the only customer who complained when her chopsuey was placed in front of her: "Why is it loaded with meat? Where are the vegetables?"

While I would like to wax nostalgic, as food writers are wont to do, about divining the mysteries hidden in the skin of an onion while chopping vegetables in grandmother's kitchen, my experience is inescapably prosaic: I began by searching "siomai recipe" on Google.

Still, it works for me. I feel myself adjusting well to this foreign country, and I think part of it is because there in my refrigerator, spice shelves, and vegetable basket, although the sitaw is called le haricot and for lumpia wrapper I use this thing called la feuille de brick, any time I want to, I can work some magic and bring myself home.

16 comments:

tommpouce said...

Is lumpia from the philippines? I've eaten lumpia probably once a week for 6 or 7 years back when I was a kid. Though it was the cooked-for-the-dutch kind. Brings back memories...

Anonymous said...

I have a (Dutch) friend who also eats lumpia in Holland...hmmm, this sentence sounds lame...

Makis said...

The next time we meet up, let's try to gather ingredients to make kare-kare!

apol said...

I think it's originally Chinese, TOMMP, but Filipino cuisine is like that: some Chinese, some Spanish, all Filipino-ized with lots of good fatty stuff :)

ANONYMOUS, can this be connected to why there are stores called Holland Hopia back home? I know, this is also lame...

MAKIS, hirap! Pero kung game ka, game din ako.

Anonymous said...

I have kare kare mix!!! game, kare kare tayo. we just have to buy the... kare? hehehe...in carrefour.
siomai is the only asian dish i can make. actually, it's wanton soup, same thing. what i want to make is arroz caldo. miammmm

kala

KatsMeow said...

Hello, ati! Ginutom mo ako. We are at a conference in Boston and I met a puti and his wife who love our food. I am inspired by your story to cook more Pinoy food. I was also encouraged by Sean's newfound love for "adobong pinaliguan ng sangkatutak na suka."

Kiko said...

Same here, I learned to cook when I moved to Singapore. It turned out to be a bit more expensive at the start because I had to be on a long distance call to my mom asking her "so what's next?" or "why is there some gross brown froth in my sinigang?" and "ma, my sago is looking like one big glob of gulaman!!!"

Sigh... I miss bistek tagalog and ginatan! How do you say 'gata' there? creme de coconut? Le chic!

K

A said...

Mamu, Fried Ma Ling pa rin ang extent ng culinary skills ko! Wahahahahaha! Ang sarap ng entry na ito, ibang klase.

cho said...

Hi. kul blog; nice template (hehe). i keep telling people the green's good for the eyes.

just asking, since the topic of pinoy food's the thing here: what do you call bagoong in English? shrimp paste, sauce, pate'? The question keeps me awake at night.

Anonymous said...

Hi Apol,
I wondered about that too! I mean, isn't it odd - Ho Land Hopia and Po-Land Hopia...read a couple of yrs back, that both shops are owned by local chinese families.Nice play on names. Holand and Poland on the same block...btw, liked the blog where you mention quickly packing your groceries. My husband is Finnish. My first time in a Finnish supermarket was, in retrospect hillarious. Me- trying to stare down this giant blonde casheir for not packing my groceries. I am thinking, "Come on woman, get moving!" She's giving me an equally
nasty look. Prolly thinking, "Who is this annoying cow???!!!"

apol said...

Halika, KALA, let's have an arroz caldo-and-tokwa't baboy lunch before you move to Paris! Just say when. Oh, and I once tried eating kare-kare made from a mix, hindi siya winner :(

Naku, KAT, Pierre is now so into Pinoy food na hinahanap-hanap na niya ang Bicol Express. Love niya rin ang bagnet which is some kind of crispy pata which if you think about it is just some kind of pork chop, so am sure feel din yan ni Sean.

KIKO the famous, it's "lait de coco," which we buy in cans. May nakikita akong niyog sa supermarket minsan, kaso di pa ako nakakahagilap ng kudkuran :) At inggitin kita: amazing MAKIS and KALA once fed me guinataan right here in the South of France.

ABI, yan ang wala dito, Ma-Ling. Pero na-discover ko na ang tinatawag nilang paté de foie ay walang iba kundi--ready ka ba dito?--LIVER SPREAD.

Naku, MR. GOITIA (I love the last name! Very European intellectual and dating.), one day pag marunong na akong mag-HTML whatever magiging kewl na rin ang look ng blog na ito. Bagoong? Hindi ko alam, but I have heard it called "that stinking shit."

ANONYMOUS, eto pa: Are you sure there aren't any gas boys, I whined while having my husband show me how to use the gas pump to fill up the car. And when I first did it on my own, ninenerbyos ako, baka mag-explode! Yes, my inutil moments are plenty...

haze said...

I learned cooking when I moved to France and got married, I am obliged coz my french hubby doesn't know either :( ! Well thanks to the Filipino community they are a big contribution on my everyday cooking experience at home....our kitchen is called LABORATORY tagged by my french honey.....puro daw imbento ha ha ha pero kain naman sya ng kain...just yesterday I cooked Paella for the 1st time (i have the recipe beside me, don't worry) it turned out just fine dami nga nyang nakain !!!!

KatsMeow said...

Paano mo piniprito yung bagnet? In a big pot? Ano yung seasoning? Puede ka bang magsulat ng "comprehensive cooking tips for Pinays cooking for puti husbands?"

apol said...

HAZE, call my kitchen LAB2. Ask me, What's cooking?, and usually I'll have to truthfully answer, "Uhm, I don't really know..."

KAT, yep, it's pretty much like crispy pata, except for the cut of meat. You boil it in salted water, put it in the freezer for an hour, and then deep-fry to pumuputok-putok goodness. Serve it with vinegar with a little soy sauce and loaded with onions, crushed pepper, and garlic. Don't forget to brush your teeth after :)

sky said...

The loempia and piangsit stands in the Netherlands are owned by Vietnamese and Chinese folks. No Pinoys there. Blander than the Pinoy counterparts I should say. Dutch people have this fascination over "Chinees" food.

A said...

Reno. Pffsh.