18 August 2005

Got coconut milk?

See the Lasang Pinoy Round-up at The Pilgrim's Pots and Pans

I received an e-mail from food blogger Stefoodie and asked if I would be interested in joining the First Lasang Pinoy Food Blogging event. This is the food bloggers' way of commemorating Ninoy Aquino and his staunch dedication and pride for the Filipino.

While I do not have a food blog, I have to heartily say yes! to this worthy endeavour. For, as my regular visitors will surmise, I am Filipino through and through in my consumption of gastronomic delights.

The time when Ninoy Aquino made the ultimate sacrifice and the important Philippine events that followed after that is actually quite a blur to me, for I was not in Manila that time, and I was still in high school. I remember, though, seeing the events unfold on the broadsheets and on TV, culminating in the People Power . Who would forget the day the top story of newspapers were "Marcos Flees", in allcaps?
Well, I don't have exactly a food association with those events because we were far from the center of climactic events. I have photos though of my family in various occasions flashing smiles and proudly showing the "L" sign with our thumb and pointing fingers.

But I admire Ninoy Aquino and his determination. Most of all, in the way he looks at Filipinos. I wish we can also always look at ourselves in that light, and love our country.

Filipino cooking is one aspect of our life that I love. The simplest things can turn into a culinary showcase! Take gata (or coconut milk), for example. We can do so many things with it. For merienda fare, we have guinataan, a sumptous blend of sago, langka, saba, camote, bola-bola [just some of the many things I do not have the english equivalent of :-)]. And have you tried guinataang bayabas (guava)? Simpy delicious. Rice cakes with coconut milk are simply the best.

For meals, we can mix gata with just about anything. Fish, crabs, shrimp. Mouth-watering delights! Even the simplest dish becomes an excellent companion to rice. Such as laing, for example. Shredded gabi leaves in gata. Add a dose of siling labuyo (small red and green peppers) for good measure, and it's sufficient to appease many an appetite.

My neighbors would usually go out on weekends to a fish market to buy clams and fish, enough to feed their families, and with lots to spare for the neighbors. They'd cook outside using firewood and make it look like a neighborhood cook-out. No occasion whatsoever. Just cooking and sharing for the fun of it. And they would also cook laing. Lots of it to go around. But bring your own rice :-).

Filipino food and the Filipino trait of sharing is just one of the many things that make me truly proud of my heritage. Kain tayo!
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