Friday, September 29, 2006

Why I Must Be in France

Is that a Monsieur or Madame Chicken? It's true what they say, the French are very picky with food. I first found this out while on vacation here a few years ago. I was grocery-shopping with my then future mother-in-law. "I'm going to cook you adobo," I said, walking to the chillers to look at the poultry. I couldn't understand what it said on the labels, so I was just poking at the yellow skin-covered meat, looking for a plump specimen, when Jeanette interrupted with, "Une poule ou un poulet?" I asked Pierre what she meant. "Do you want a female chicken or a male one," was the question. Glimpsing a future full of life adjustments, many of them small but with great potential to annoy, I sighed and replied, "You guys are really not going to make this easy for me, are you. It's hard enough with your nouns, but must your chicken dishes be gender sensitive too?"

Fish is a luxury. Back home, when you talk of food for the masses, you talk of fish, like tilapia and galunggong. Over here, if you have not much money, you're better off buying meat that in the Philippines would be expensive, cuts of calf or lamb maybe. One time we decided to make kinilaw for friends, and off I went to buy a kilo a swordfish. I still convert, so I gasped when I saw my bill: 25 euros. If I were still in Mandaluyong, those 1,600 Philippine pesos would have been a week's worth of groceries. Next time I'm serving them pizza...

Even their pigs fall under the French paradox. Reading Ianne, I remembered that in the beginning I'd cook Pinoy dishes and find them always lacking a certain something. My sinigang was not as tasty; my crispy pata lacking the pumuputok-putok goodness of the same dish back home. It was only when I looked closely at the pork offered at the supermarché and boucherie that I figured out why. Missing is that solid inch-thick layer of yellowish fat between skin and meat that you'd get at the neighborhood talipapa. Instead all you have are a couple of millimeters, meager little strings of white. What nonsense, I exploded. Whoever heard of pig, non-fat?!

10 comments:

KaY said...

the gender of the chicken being cooked actually matters? now, that is what you call cultural difference ...

and how sweet to live there where fish is expensive ... i'm no fish person that's why ...

petite said...

hi, apol! you might find this interesting...but in my own probinsya in so. leyte, they were also particular about the gender of the chicken when cooking a certain dish...they would prefer a female chicken for a soup dish like tinola because a rooster's meat would be too tough (usually because the rooster is used for sabong, hehe). conversely, male chicken meat is preferred for fried dishes. something like that.

over where we are now, certain kinds of fish are a luxury too. just a few weeks ago, we bought some tuna from the supermarket, and i was really excited because the label said 'imported from the philippines'. but the price tag - agh, ang sakit! it was $20 per pound! when we go back home to pinas for vacation, i'm really going to pig out on seafood.

Kat O. said...

Apol, perhaps the pigs consume copious amounts of wine, cheese, and chocolate too. Sigh!

apol said...

KAY, hahahahah! yep, interracial marriages are never easy!

PETITE, baka kaya I never really cooked enough back home is the only reason I don't know to distinguish betwen hens and roosters for cooking?

KAT, I wouldn't be surprised... Hey, can I put a link to your blog here?

Anonymous said...

Really? You can choose between a poule and a poulet?! Damn, I never knew.
Kala

kat o. said...

Sige, ateh! Btw is it very cold in Provence in February?

A said...

Mams, parang ang sarap mo magluto ha.

haze said...

ha ha ha non-fat pig? Where can we buy it? Yes la poule - yung buhay pa! Yung poulet - kakainin na! I think French terms are over exagge sometimes! That's too difficult to understand the difference between the masculin and feminin terms di ba Apol?!!

BTW, out of topic, I have a friend in Paris who has a bestfriend based in Hongkong (a business writer too). She knows you, i think naging classmates kayo! Her name is Lou oh, sorry I forgot to ask her family name :(. I will tell you soon ok? O kelan ba mapapadaan dito;)?

jencc said...

just stopped by. i like your writing! you're funny! :)

apol said...

KALA, this from a girl who serves Carefour lasagna...

KAT, Feb is still chilly. March, perhaps?

ABI, come over and try it :)

HAZE, I will try to visit very soon. E-mail me nga your address and phone numbers. And I know two Lous, but I don't know exactly if any one of them is in HK.

JENCC, maraming, maraming salamat. Balik ka ha.