A few nights ago, I decided to honour my place as a woman and my mother’s origins from the food capital of the Philippines (Pampanga) by cooking dinner. Specifically, I decided to cook a staple Philippine chicken dish called adobo. Yes, I said it. I volunteered to cook something different from scrambled eggs and toast. I’ve attempted this dish several times before (it’s my default exotic dish whenever I want to show off my culinary culturedness) so it wasn’t a new feat for me. This time, however, it turned out better than normal. Delicious, in fact! Just the right balance of salt and sweet, with caramelized onions and garlic. I marinated, I boiled, I pre-fried and sautéed. I consulted mama’s recipe over and over again to make certain I did everything right. And it turned out excellent! Yummy! Sumptuous!
Mama, you would have been so proud of me (bar the fact that I burnt the coffee, AGAIN!)!
But, besides the delight of cooking something and having it taste the way it’s supposed to, something more serendipitous added to my joy that night. I was so overcome with glee when I found out that the kitchen utensils we’ve been using are perfectly matched to our pots and pans! Please see the picture below for a clearer idea of what I mean. The hole in the giant spoon! It fits just there, on the handle of that pot! There’s a whole set of them – utensils, pots and matching holes and notches. How great is that? So great! So great, in fact, that I might just be inspired to cook again.
Denise Gamboa to my future husband: i burnt popcorn in the microwave, and to neutralize the smell started boiling coffee on the stove. i just burnt that too. and now it’s doubly stinky. i am just not destined for the kitchen. you need to know that in advance. ♥
Thanks to the generosity of some new friends, I got to go to my very first polo match yesterday. And it was beautiful. A perfectly warm spring Saturday, with the excited buzz of the season’s opening games thick in the air. We were fortunate to get box seats and what a great introduction to polo it was. I’ve never seen horses so dignified and elegant. They hop across the field in their muscled glory and perfectly braided tails, manes shiny in the sunlight. I want one! Even just a pony! They are so gorgeous!
And before that, we had brunch with a friend in Palermo. The afternoon was hot and dry, the streets full of Saturday window shoppers. I tried on a ridiculous pair of four inch peep-toe platform heels. And I actually managed to walk in them without breaking my ankles! I tried red ones, animal print ones, grey ones, black ones. In the end, the paradox of choice kicked in and I didn’t end up getting a pair. I’m sure the shopkeepers were impressed.
For dinner, we (he) cooked. Milanesa de pollo. My favourite Argentinian dish. We bought wine and breadcrumbs and chicken and veggies. Grocery shopping is one of my favourite things to do in foreign places. Everything is named differently and there is always an interesting brand of cookies or milk or cereal to marvel over. Dinner was fantastic – delicious and healthy and low key. And then we watched Hellboy on TV in Spanish! And I understood maybe 30% of the dialogue. This is HUGE for me. HUGE! It made me happy and then I passed out the couch.
Sea salt from Peloponese Greece. Pulvoron from Goldilocks California. Crackers from Korea. Ingredients from home that somehow make us feel a little less far away from the smells and flavors of the kitchens we grew up in.
Last week, a sudden burst of gratitude came over me while Maria and I were making dinner in her flat. We were making baked salmon and broccoli. She opened a plastic coke bottle full of olive oil and started pouring it over the fish. It was olive oil from Greece that she brought back with her over Christmas. Then she opened a cardboard box full of sea salt, dried and hand picked by her dad off the beaches of Peloponese, and sprinkled it over the salmon. Just as food cooked by a loved one tastes so much better than food you cook on your own, so does food made with ingredients from home. Even though I haven’t met Maria’s parents, somehow our meal that night felt like it was made with their love. It reminded me of warm nights in my Mom’s kitchen, the stove bursting with steam and flavors, the room noisy with conversation.
Food is such an enabler of love and togetherness in families and between friends. It is the bedrock of social interaction in many cultures and an instant ice breaker between guests. It’s an expression of love unique to all others – food takes time, it takes care, it takes meticulous planning and work. The best meals can’t be bought in stores or restaurants – recipes must be perfected over time, passed down from grandmothers and mothers, mastered over many rainy Sundays in small family kitchens.
The Dalai Lama once said, “Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon”. They’re one in the same. =)
We launched this new YT series called “Cookalong with Gordon Ramsay”. With the recession upon us, there are stats that suggest people are choosing to eat out less and eat in more. The point is to watch Gordon cook a recipe in one hour and then go and do it yourself. We’ve been asked to film ourselves and then post on YouTube.
Last night, we went over to our friend K’s house to make Angel Hair Pasta apps, Duck breast and Tiramisu. =)
The result was a gong show of a night and only some very minor burn injuries. Great times!!
Hi there! I'm Denise. I share my name with Dionysia, the Greek god of wine, pleasure and joy. I'm a photographer, writer, marketer vagabond. I take photographs of enchanted places and the people seduced by them. This blog is an account of the wisdom, joy and grace that I've encountered along the way, and a place where I showcase some of my favourite photographs.
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