Ageing folks become the unintentional repository of old customs, mind-sets, food and folk lore, of architecture of houses, kinds of furniture, pastimes, clothes and trivia. Being in drama, Gino Gonzalez is the most kulit-ero of them all. For one, he wanted to know if the small antique brass chocolatera (a collector’s item now) was ever served on the dining table.
They went out before my time!! In my 30s childhood, the chocolatera was already bright navy blue enamel with a straight horizontal handle and a bulbous bottom. It was a cooking vessel that went straight to the stove, never to the dining table. Its companion was a wooden batidor with a cylindrical rickrack end. The batidor handle was rolled briskly between the palms to faster melt the chocolate ball (tablea) in the hot water and create a froth. Then milk (Alpine, Carnation or Bear Brand) was added.
Today, for some strange reason, the tsokolate beverage needs no beating and melts fast with just stirring.
A long time ago, I made a comparative study of all the tsokolate brands available in supermarkets and liked best a pink, red and gold cylindrical package of “pure cacao manufactured since the 1930s” in Benavidez St., Binondo. And sure enough, every time we passed that street you could smell the delicious aroma of tsokolate.
Today I still serve tsokolate the old Batangas way, with dried pinipig (rice pounded flat) steeping in it. Fresh chewy green pinipig, available every weekend market in Centris, Quezon City, is even more delicious. Some homes, I heard, toast the pinipig first before mixing it in, but I think that kind of makes the pinipig disappear. As children we rather liked eating toasted pinipig with sugar just by itself.
There used to be a duhat season, but where is that fruit these days? Even if not of premium quality, duhat would be nice to eat. We used to make any kind of duhat sweet by placing the fruits in a concave soup plate with sugar and salt and covering it with another ordinary plate. We shake it up and down (niluluglog). All battered, the duhat becomes the taste of very fresh dikyam.
A dish from Pagsanjan that I’ve eaten since childhood is chickpea (garbanzos) lumpia. We always have a ready-to-be-fried pile of it in the freezer, just in case. Recipe: Big size can of cooked garbanzos to avoid cooking the hard dried peas from scratch, which takes a long time. Mash by hand or in mixer. Add olive oil, black pepper, salt. Put a bit of Knorr cube or else “Magic Sarap” to flavor. Wrap in small lumpia wrappers (size for lumpiang Shanghai). Fry when about to eat. Dipping sauce is vinegar with cubed hardboiled egg, minced onion and pinch of salt.
Even if Laguna is coconut country, it has no tradition of gata cooking, unlike Quezon and Bicol. Everything, they say, is “daan sa kawali.”
In the old days, sotanghon soup was called langlang. Its ingredients included those transparent noodles, tengang daga (rat’s ear) mushroom, hibe or dried shrimps, sliced boiled chicken and a topping of—surprise! surprise!—chopped fresh ubud (pith of coconut trunk). Another unusual topping of old was fried bihon. It was for sour kilawin bituka (chopped innards with vinegar and onions).
Please not to confuse two favorites—estofado, which is Iberian in origin, with humba, which is Chinese-Filipino. Estofado is pig’s leg with a sweetish toyo-based sauce and it originally included fried pan de sal and saba bananas or kamote speared on a barbecue stick on the same platter. On the other hand, humba contains pork liempo or casim and banana blooms, also in a sweetish toyo-based sauce, but with tahuri (fermented soy bean paste).
Do not confuse either the holiday chicken relyeno with galantina. Both are deboned and stuffed chickens, relyeno with wings showing, galantina rolled, with deboned wings tucked inside. Relyeno is brown roasted in the oven, galantina is boiled and more bland. Galantina filling includes, aside from ground pork and chicken, hardboiled egg, Vienna sausage, maybe ham, stuffed green olives and carrots. The basic filling of relyeno is spicier, with more ham, pork sausage, chorizo de Bilbao and raisins (no egg).
If you’re stuck somewhere with those instructions, please don’t ask me.
Pahabol: I forgot to add in last week’s enumeration that one of the best meals my family has eaten was in Truly Asia in Fisher Mall. The menu suggested by my son Arcus was crispy fried Thai papaya salad; smoked oysters (with chili garlic and lime); fried king fish with seafood chili sauce or Thai mango salad; beef rendang; squid with salted egg; Nasi goreng; Truly Asia roti dessert which has roti, ice cream, bananas, etc. Don’t miss this.
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