Love. The most beautiful thing in the world. The idiocy that we celebrate but can’t define.
The feeling, that thought
It can be stolen but can’t be bought.
Bleh. Bleh. Bleh.
Some are so desperate to find love that they go to extremes and use witchcraft!
This is the theme of the Sikatuna Village restaurant Gayuma ni Maria. At Gayuma, it’s not just about love: It’s about love-making, romance and even witchcraft! Or so the menu says.
It all begins with COURTSHIP a.k.a. Soup and Salad. Nachos are titled “Tuliro” (dazed); a mushroom dip is called “Love Bug.” Then you move on to ATTRACTION a.k.a. Appetizers. Taro fries are called “Itsie Bitsie Fetish,” while the calamares are more naughtily called “Kala ni Mare” and explained this way: “’kala ni mare, malaki, pero ganun pa man, masarap.” [More or less translates to: “She thought it was big; nonetheless, it tasted great!”]
Then you decide whether you want a FLING (mains that are faster to prepare), or a COMMITMENT of beef, pork or poultry. A braised beef pot is called “Secret Lovers” while chicken variations are titled “Holding Hands While Walking, Pa-Swing Swing Pa,” “I love you, cross my heart” and “Please be careful with my heart.” For the quail, “Size Doesn’t Matter;” for the turkey, “Thank God for Big Birds.”
On the walls are love quotes: “Forget love. I’d rather fall in chocolate!” And a message from Kahlil Gibran: “Rest in Reason. Move in Passion.” But most important of all, are the love spells complete with recipe, chant and instructions.
Still, if the food were any indication, witchcraft isn’t necessarily effective. Not to blame the chef-it’s a low-key neighborhood restaurant after all. And it seems to be comfortable in its theme, setting and current state of steady. The ambience may probably be titled “Through the Years.”
While service is excellent in that the waitress is attentive and accommodating, this is no place for fine dining. And while there are hearts all over-from the hanging hearts on the awning to the heart-laden crocheted curtains-the romance may fizzle once you’re past the humor and actually eating the food. (Should we call that marriage?)
The menu is creative, to be sure. An appetizer of cheese-filled chili in lumpia wrapper is a source of comfort. The twice-baked chicken is soft and juicy and even has roasted garlic on the side to mash and appreciate with it. But this is food you want to go home to or eat a lot of when you’re hungry, not necessarily the kind you are infatuated over and would fall in love with. It’s the kind of food you gorge on after an exam; not the kind you nibble on during a date.
The soup called Unrequited Love, their version of sinigang, is awesome at first slurp. It hits you with its sourness-may asim pa! But after a while it’s too much of a good thing and you find yourself needing rice to temper it. True to its name, it’s an affair that doesn’t last. For dessert, you are enticed with a chocolate cake called “Beats Sex Any Time.” How can you not order that? It is moist, to be sure. But if this beats sex, you might as well be celibate the rest of your life. Sorry!
But the restaurant is a great place for hanging out with friends after a long day. After all, you don’t talk about gayuma with your partner or your target. You discuss it among friends who will help you on your mission! This is the place to go to on Valentine’s Day for all the single girls so they can gather together and proclaim that we don’t need men on this day of hearts (while secretly creating concoctions to snag “the one”). And for all the men who find comfort in each other’s jokes and snickers as they wince about the one who got away.
Because at the end of the day, Valentine’s is just about a good time. And love, like gayuma… is just an illusion! Unless, of course, you’ve found it. •
Gayuma ni Maria. 123 V. Luna Extension (Maginhawa Street), Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. Tel. 441-4872. Business Hours: 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Monday to Saturday and 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Sundays.
Ginny Roces’ Better than Sex Chocolate Cake
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup plus 3 tbsp hot water
1 cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 3500F. Prepare your cake pan by lining it with wax or baking paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl.
Whisk the cocoa powder and hot water together in a bowl large enough for all the other ingredients to fit in. Add the brown sugar and oil, and whisk until very smooth and slightly cooled.
Whisk the egg in a small bowl until frothy. Stir it into the chocolate mixture. Add the dry ingredients and mix very well with a spatula or scraper.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until the top springs back when gently touched. Or test by inserting a cake tester (a toothpick will do well) in the center of the cake, there should be some crumbs clinging to it when you pull it out. Do not overcook. Remember that the cake will continue to cook as it cools.
Remove the cake from the oven and let it sit in the pan for several minutes. Turn out onto the rack to cool completely.