Monday, November 21, 2011

BLOG 20: Thanksgiving Over the Past Few Years

As a way to wrap up this project, and since it is almost Thanksgiving, I decided to spend my last blog talking about my own experiences with Thanksgiving. I have only lived in the United States for five years, meaning that celebrating Thanksgiving is relatively new to me. However, I learned to love it very quickly. My family was thoughtful enough to give me a real Thanksgiving experience in my first year. And when I say real, I just mean Turkey and both apple and pumpkin pie, which are really the only things I know that are supposed to be present during a Thanksgiving dinner. Regardless, we had many other foods on the table and our bellies were happy by the end of the night. What I did learn was that I was actually not very fond of turkey. It thought it was much too bland and was not as good as chicken or ham or pretty much any other meat there is. To my luck, I find out that my family does not care much for turkey either. So on the second year, instead of spending a handful on a bird that no one enjoys, we decided to invest in ham. In the third year, there was very poor preparation and ended up eating a lot of Filipino food (it’s who we are, what we love, and we’re best at. Can you really blame us?) In the fourth year my sister and brother-in-law decided to go to a completely different route and prepared crab (very un-thanksgiving, but absolutely DE-LI-CIOUS). My mom then prepared shrimp, and scallops wrapped in bacon. Before you know it, our holiday had turned seafood themed. The previous thanksgiving was so successful that we plan to repeat the theme this year. So now that you think of it, thanksgiving in our family is not truly thanksgiving. It is simply an opportunity to gather around a beautifully set table with delicious yet untraditional food. But hey, at least apple and pumpkin pie has not been eliminated.

Though we don't like turkey, I'm sure we all know how this guy feels. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! :)

BLOG 19: My Everyday Street Food Growing Up

In my first blog, I touched a little bit on Filipino street food. For this entry, I want to take you into what food I enjoyed after school through the years that I lived there.

One of the few that I mentioned earlier was kwek-kwek. To refresh your memory, it is deep-fried quail eggs covered in batter. I used to go through twenty of these in one afternoon. Because they are smaller, it is much easier just to scarf down. Though I do not know how true it is, my friend has told me back then that in terms of calories, one quail egg would be equivalent to three chicken eggs. But then again, they also say that the things that are bad for you are always the things that taste better.

Another thing that people may find odd in the Philippines is how we would drink soda from plastic bags. For 2 pesos (more or less a nickel here in America), we buy our sodas at our local tindahan (basically convenience store along the street), and it is poured from the bottle to a plastic bag with a straw. This might not be as common anymore, since it has been years since I had one of those. But then again, it is also just one of those things that remind me of home.

This is how the soda in a bag would look like.

Lastly, we have something called ice candy. This is something that I would either buy at the store or make at my own time as a child. How we make it is that we get powdered juice, which can have a variety of flavors such as strawberry, grape, orange, etc. We put it in a skinny, test tube-shaped plastic, knot it at the top, and put it in the freezer until it turns to ice. After a few hours, take it out of the freezer, bite the tip to make a small hole, and enjoy your ice candy. It was especially delicious to grab one of those in those scorching days in the summertime. 
A variety of ice candy flavors

BLOG 18: My Special Ramen Noodles

Despite living at home, I still have my moments where I eat like a college student. Sometimes, I just do not have the time, and I do not expect mom to prepare us meals every single day of the week. As a result, have to resort to TV dinners or fast food. Because of the situation, we had to stock up on ramen noodles. In those times where my belly is grumbling and that is all we have left, my boyfriend taught me of a way to make my meals a little bit more interesting. Though we have yet to choose a name for it, for the meantime we shall call it “the Lazy Student’s Ramen Noodle.”

It starts with boiling in hot water until soft and then adding the packaged seasoning (of course). Typically, the beef flavored instant noodles is used. He then mixes in one egg, one slice of lemon, steamed chicken (optional), and a hint of tapatio sauce. Mix it well, and with that, you’re done! You have your instant noodles with a twist.  Yes, I do realize that it is very bad for me, but it is actually quite delicious. It worked out as a great hangover food one time and saved me from further misery. Maybe one day we will find a healthier way to make this. It will probably have a real name by then. But for now, you should give our “Lazy Student’s Ramen Noodle” a try. 

To be fair, at least it is much better than this stuff.

BLOG 17: We Make Most Out of Our Pork and Chicken

If you would not believe, there is actually a dish in the Philippines that I have not heard of, but how it’s made does not really come as a shock to me, because Filipinos love to use most of the food they make. I had just heard of something called pork maskara. Maskara, meaning mask, it is basically a dish that contains mainly the parts of the pig’s head. Every part of the pig’s head is chopped, including the ears, cheeks, and pretty much everything one can get out of it until only the skull is left. Pork insides, such as intestines and tongue are also usually mixed into the dish. It is then boiled with garlic, onions and ginger, before it is cooked. It is cooked with more garlic, onion, and ginger, in addition to soy sauce and oyster sauce. Maskara is a dish that most people in the Philippines enjoy while pounding down a few beers. This pork head can be found in many local Asian markets, which they will even chop for you as you buy it.

I know what you’re thinking, dishes with pig’s blood and scraps from pig’s head? Needless to say, it is kind of the same situation with chickens, from chicken feet to even chicken esophagus (called chicken buchi but this may not be as popular). These are usually grilled and painted with BBQ sauce and sold on the streets. We really do try to get every single scrap, don’t we? I mean it is true, why throw away a piece when there are still many culinary opportunities? To what most would find disgusting, we just see it as resourceful.

Chicken Adidas or Chicken Feet

BLOG 16: If I Were To Survive On Only Three Foods...

A given blog entry idea was to write about three foods you cannot live without. Or better, if I were to survive on only three foods what would they be? It was a tough decision, but I had found my final three:

1.) Rice – this does not really come as a surprise. Probably a good 80% of every meal in my entire life had rice. In fact, I remember there was one particular week a few years back where I did not have rice at all. I did not know what was wrong, but I just knew that I did not feel right either. The strange thing was my sister actually felt the same way. I think I have mentioned to people before that I could live off fried rice forever. To me, fried rice is pretty much an entire meal in a bowl. My favorite kind would be garlic fried rice. With that, I am complete.

Forever Food #1: Garlic Fried Rice

2.) Pasta – ok, so in what’s left of the 80% from earlier, probably 10% of it is pasta. I pretty much love pasta regardless of what dish. I like the texture and taste even when it’s not mixed with any kind of sauce (though I probably would not eat an entire meal with sauce-less pasta). I love spaghetti, fettuccini, and have a pretty steady love affair with pesto.

Forever Food #2: Pesto Pasta

3.) Bread – because really, who can survive without bread? Even back in biblical times, bread was kind of a big deal.  Bread is light enough to munch on, on the go, but heavy enough fill you up for a while. Actually, if given a choice, I much prefer French bread over any other bread there is. It has the taste, firmness, and the length that probably should last more than 4 days in my kitchen. French bread, to me, is perfect.
Forever Food #3: French Bread

BLOG 15: The Stinking Rose

A few weeks ago, I went on a small trip over the weekend to visit my boyfriend in Los Angeles. He knows that I had a thing for food that makes your mouth smell so for date night, he took me to a place called the Stinking Rose. Most people are well aware that the “stinking rose” is referred to as garlic. Why? The stink part of the title is clear. The restaurant website tried to explain the rose part either but basically… they don’t know either.
My boyfriend has heard a lot of buzz about the restaurant which is why he decided that we go there in the first place. Everyone has told him that we just had to get their popular appetizer, the “bagna calda.” It was garlic cloves toasted in olive oil and butter, creating a spread to be eaten with bread. I thought it was pretty good, although I did enjoy the other spread they served to us when we were seated. My boyfriend was also a little underwhelmed by the hype of it all.

The famous Bagna Calda

Then we had the Arugula Pesto (pretty much just pesto and pasta to me), and we each had the Garlic Roasted Prime Rib, which is served with mashed potatoes and spinach. The prime rib was absolutely delicious. The overall experience was a good one. It was a very uniquely decorated place a nice and cozy ambiance. But sadly, of all the food served there, if there was one thing that would make me come back, it would be for their strawberry mojito. If you want to try it out for yourself, they have a branch in San Francisco. 325 Columbus Ave, San Francisco.

BLOG 14: Chocolate Covered: Adventures in Chocolate and Whimsical Gifts

Last year, my family spontaneously found a sweet shop in San Francisco while taking my cousin around who was visiting from New York. The shop was small, quaint, and cozy, with name that explained it perfectly: Chocolate Covered. The shop contained varieties of delicious to oddly mixed pieces of chocolate. Among the oddball creations in the store was what we came to look for. My cousin had heard about chocolate covered bacon which had us all intrigued. You may be thinking of actual strips of bacon that was dipped in chocolate (as we had all pictured in our head). Apparently, that kind of chocolate-covered bacon is typically found in fairs. Around the area, they have them available in the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. But instead, we found a bar of milk chocolate with small bits of bacon, which I must say, is probably better than the actual chocolate-covered one. It had the perfect mix of salty and sweetness that did not overpower each other. 
Instead of this...

...we found this.

I had also purchased chocolate-covered edamame, and a dark chocolate with pistachios with a hint of spice. Also in the store was a collection of small charming gift boxes and vintage lunchboxes which would make perfect gifts if you wanted a sweet present for the holidays. Chocolate Covered is located at 4069 24th Street, San Francisco, between Castro Street and Noe Street.

*Photos grabbed from Yelp