The revolt of the cheese curls | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


Many people have their stash of junk food. I have been nursing mine for weeks—between guests, my resident grandson and junkie me, it is diminishing daily.


The bright packages are in a big, open basket in my bedroom—very convenient for midnight snacking! Shame on you, ma, my children chide me, your teeth will rot, you will get fat, your skin will turn gray, your eye bags will multiply, your bones will crack, and you won’t be able to walk.


Just for that I will share none of my treasure with them. Not my Lay’s Kettle Potato Chips—natural with cheddar and sour cream, barbecue or sea salt (by the way, what’s so special about sea salt when that is only our asin na magaspang, isn’t it?). I will hide my Ruffles ridged potato chips, wavy potatoes and my stacking potato chips. I will disguise my Lady Liberty Cheez Curls, Nutsy Cheez Curls and specially my Herr’s Baked Cheese Curls (the best!).


All are advertised as Proudly Made in the USA, all claim to be Baked with Real Cheese, but how much real cheese is in each batch? The attractive orange powder on each curl sticks to one’s fingers. You wonder, isn’t it just ground corn meal rolled in cheese powder, color, and lots and lots of salt?


But cheese curls are cheese curls, and I adore cheese curls, whether real or fake. Also corn nacho chips and Tortillas (Jack and Jill), Piattos and cheese rings.


Of the local brands, though, I enjoy Popcorners best. It is a Chef Tony original—popcorn flattened into chips and bland enough to eat a lot of!


When Dad was still alive, he had his own stock of junk food that filled four open bookshelves. The (then) little grandkids considered it public domain and clambered up to raid his grocery.


As a kontra kulam to my sugar-frees, I think, he had every chocolate brand—from See’s to Chocnut; also kasuy, peanuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazilnuts. There was hopia—mongo, baboy, ube; butong pakwan, squash seeds, dikyam, champuy, kiamoy; all kinds of cookies and biscuits in boxes and canisters.


One shelf carried bottles of baby gherkin pickles, dill pickles, giant black olives, stuffed green olives (when they were still rare). Also a certain sockeye pink salmon only available abroad. All were sent by his relatives in the States, who spoiled their gourmet cousin silly.


Between Dad’s supermarket and my junk food stash, we could survive several fierce winters in a battlefield, if we had winters or wars.


But one day, my ultra-healthy, KJ best friend Mariel froze my corn curls binge in its tracks. She sent me a vegetable wrap, I’m sure, to make me feel guilty.


Mariel’s Veggie Wrap


Long strips of carrot


Long strips of cucumber


Ashitaba leaves (optional)


Mix with fresh sweet basil, mint leaves and wansuy


Boiled sotanghon (small quantity)


Boiled shrimps, halved and peeled


Wrap all together in Vietnamese rice paper (softened in water and sugar).


Its dip: kalamansi, patis, minced garlic, sugar water and sili.


Of course it was very good. The next day the health barrage continued. Mariel sent a lettuce bed topped with shelled shrimps and shredded pomelo to do battle with the potato chips. She even texted a recipe of her excellent Perfect Guacamole Recipe.


“Grandpa and Grandma Parade” ART BY GCF 2010



2 ripe avocados


½ red onion, minced (about ½ c)


1-2 siling pang sigang (long), stems and seeds removed, minced


3 tbsp wansuy, finely chopped


2 tbsp dayap or lemon juice or 1 tbsp kalamansi


3 cloves garlic, mashed and chopped


1 tsp cumin powder


½ tsp rock salt


Freshly grated black pepper


2 ripe tomatoes, seeds and pulp removed; chopped (optional)


Mash avocado with a fork, and add all ingredients except fresh tomatoes. Mash some more. Peppers vary in hotness; start with one and add to desired hotness. Before serving, put chopped tomatoes on top of guacamole (optional).


The chips were shifting loyalties! Mariel wanted them for her guacamole, too! I ate up the rest of my tortillas before they could get tainted with health.


I thanked Mariel but revenged her with Manny C’s fresh pechay cut in strips and mixed with pomelo and some nuts (Monique Villonco’s recipe). To it I added a dressing I had invented way back for my book on working lunches in the ’70s. I’m proud of it so here it is, as good as ever.


GCF Books Dressing


¼ c kalamansi juice


3 tbsp bagoong Balayan (fish bagoong)


1 tbsp sugar


1 tsp Perrins sauce


1 tsp finely minced garlic


1 egg, lightly beaten


½ c olive oil


1/8 tsp pepper


Mix altogether.  Use on leafy green salads.


But Beni, my cook, had turned traitor, too, as she began to prepare healthy meals again.  First was


Kilawin Dilis


Fresh dilis. Marinate in vinegar, pepper, salt, chopped onion, olive oil. Serve with Romaine lettuce topped with big cubes of yellow watermelon bathed in the precious GCF Books dressing. And, of course, she couldn’t resist parading her walang kamatayang…


Garbanzos Lumpia


1 can cooked garbanzos


Grind contents, add ¼ Knorr chicken cube (¼ per can). Mix well.


Wrap in small lumpia wrappers. Fry to make unhealthy.


Dip: Put one finely diced hard-boiled egg in vinegar with chopped onion, pepper and salt.


Later in the evening, Beni made Sonny Tinio’s sliced eggplant cooked in kakang gata and sprinkled it with flaked tinapa. Tomorrow she will make ginataang pako, fresh ferns and dulong torta.


I feel so healthy. It’s disgusting.



Parade of grandmas and grandpas


The Grandma and Grandpa Club of the Geriatric Center and the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of St. Luke’s Medical Center, Global City will hold a parade of the art wheelchairs with Grandmas and Grandpas riding them. This will be on Tuesday, Aug. 6, at 10 a.m., and will be followed immediately after by the raffle of wheelchairs to its donors. Everyone is warmly invited.


The art wheelchairs will be on display at the lobby of the St. Luke’s Medical Center, Global City until Aug. 6. (If you ask me, I sincerely like all the chairs. All are equally beautiful, and I wouldn’t mind getting any of them as one of the sponsors.)


The remaining chairs will be on auction at a date to be later announced.






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