- hello Lee Gibson
- Username: Honeypet
- In response to: "If you were in a movie right now, what music would be playing?" To sum one's life in a song, or a quote, is like asking to distill glacier and barley into a bottle; it takes years of maturation to produce a fine, single-malt whisky. Simple but nuanced, that's me.
- Honeypet's latest answers
- A haiku about Oceans Thirteen
- It's Paris for me...
In a romaticized life, I would love to believe that I was fit enough to live out my years in Paris, France.
I loved Paris during my first (and hopefully, not my last) visit there almost ten years ago. I don't know how much it has changed since then, but from what I remember of the city, it was enough to make me want to live there.
The place itself is steeped in history, the architecture an awe-inspiring tribute to every golden age, the cuisine sublime, the culture rich and the pace a healthy fast but not harried. People still had time to sip a beautifully prepared cup of coffee in various sidewalk cafes, and I got the impression that there was pride in presenting and acquiring the best, whether it was fresh produce or fashion.
Art is alive in Paris, and beauty is a living thing. Every corner proffered a tableau of life as if caught between two portals of faded pulchritude and modernity. My head spun with the magnificent views, whether from atop its most famous tower, or from the quintessential balcony overlooking its many arrondisement. Even everyday chores like sweeping the floor of a brasserie seem like a stage production mounted just for my enjoyment.
Still, it is far from perfect, which is part of its aspect that I loved. I saw man and dog peeing in the streets, and sidestepping canine poop was a form of urban work-out. The city itself was expensive, and there were a lot of places that had thinly veiled shabiness to them. My reasoning was that it couldn't be helped if a "new" building was probably a hudnred years old. And of course the garcons had its reputation for being impatient and rude, but then again, my own experience proved that a fallacy. I thought that they appreciated the pained effort I made to speak their language, and not only rescued me from embarassment but offered delicious suggestions and helped out with directions.
If money was no object, I would like to live in Paris while keeping a farmhouse in the South of France, an apartment in New York and Hong Kong and an expansive beach house in the Philippines. But that's another story.
This is an older hit, but from the haunting piano intro to the lyrics everyone can identify with, this was a winner and heavy rotation on the airwaves did nothing to diminish this song's compelling hook. Right now, this band can do no wrong and I can't wait to see them live in concert at the Indoor Stadium next week (thanks, Maan!).
I don't even like Pink. But this song was way too catchy and the video so tongue and cheek that I actually told myself to give this gal a chance. Of course credit should be given to Max Martin, one of pop's genius-one-man-hit-factory for coming up with this earworm.
Actually, this spot should probably go to super overplayed Lady Gaga, hmmmnnn...
What??! You guys still don't know this Irish band who write about "relationship suicide," and all the heartbreak and kiss-and-make up stuff that anyone who's ever cried over lost love will surely say, they wrote the song about me/for me... The catchy tunes, romantic lyrics, rock & r&b edge, superb vocals and eye candy members make the band swoon-worthy, guaranteeing gigantic sing-along concert and gigs wherever you find them. They are getting airplay here and I still can't get enough ;p
- Too much of a good thing...
Hoarding pantry products, that's my vice.
I love to eat. My pleasurable goal was to be like one of my food idols, Jeffrey Steingarten, and be an omnivore, relinquishing any food biases and prejudices. To this end I follow one code of conduct, "Don't knock it until you've tried it." I never say no to a generous offer to break bread together, or swill tipple, or even cook, for two or forty people at a day's notice.
Both my parents cooked. Some of my favorite memories of my late father was of him leading our young family on a drive to some remote seaside town, where he would inevitably befriend the local fishermen to take him fishing before dawn. He would come back by sunrise, with fresh catch of tuna, squid, grouper and mysterious looking fish that I would blanch at. He would regale us with stories of mixing a dipping sauce of soy, chilis, onions and herbs on board their tiny outrigger, catching the cuttlefish baited by the light, pulling the tentacles off the slippery creature, rinsing the gleaming body into the sea and plonking it down in the sauce before savoring the now exotic dish, usually with a swig of potent, local coconut wine. Back then I thought it was barbaric; now I call it eating sushi.
My mother was typical of her generation. She worked in an office, would go to the wet market on her way home to buy the evening meal, and then go home to whip up various childhood comfort food. She also whipped us into Sunday lunch service, which translated to early morning trips to the market on Saturdays(no mercy on weekends!) to buy ingredients for the inevitable feast that follows mass on Sundays. Our baskets would groan with fresh produce, meat, fish, spices, all haggled down to a regular customer's price, and hastily brought back home to begin their sorry journey to the pot.
The dishes almost invariably require lengthy, two day preparations and long simmering times, but the delicious, savory meals were all way worth the effort. Nowadays, I would desperately try to recreate these repasts of old, but inevitably succumb to the allure of time-saving, prepacked mixes. How many generations from both sides of my family must be turning in their graves.
But as life happens, I also have memories of being hungry because there wasn't enough food to feed five kids in our family. With divorced parents, I learned how to be creative in the kitchen to stretch the meager supply. Salt, soy sauce, calamansi and pepper were my extender allies that rescued many a plain bowl of rice. And when I eventually grew up into full adulthood with all its trappings and responsibility, I became obsessed with making sure that the cupboards are never bare, and that stomachs in my household will always be lined.
If you look into my pantry, you will find tons of items, both foreign and familiar. Sheets of lasagna, boxes of spinach fettucine and organic angel hair pasta mingle with soba, bee hon, sundried tomato tortilla, couscous and quinoa. I keep white rice, brown rice, mixed grain rice, plus lentils, chickpeas, red beans, mung beans, black beans and yes, coffee beans. There are dried seaweed, dashi powder, coconut cream and curry mixes. Chilis and pastes, chutneys and relishes, jars of lavender and juniper berries and spices of every scent and form. Salt, oh, I keep at least 6 different types, usually more, with at least three open at any given time. I swear the fleur de sel from Brittany is best on roasted meats, while the Himalayan pink salt works wonders with fish.
There are of course the usual pantry suspects of canned tomatoes, tinned tuna and bottles of mayonnaise and ketchup. There are pancake mixes and chocolates for eating and baking, extracts and flavorings, cake decorations (though I don't bake except for cheesecake and brownies) and food coloring. I keep bags of chips and pistachios, dried nuts and dates and figs; jams and peanut butter and even Marmite. Honey, maple syrup, rice syrup and caramel. Several types of soy sauc, vinegars and oils. Oh, and candy. I can fill up a pinata any day.
So what seems to be the problem? Well, despite my boundless generosity with food, I am against waste. And when one keeps stock of food the way I do, it's inevitable that some of them expire or spoil before I get around to using them, or serving them again. The bottles of Clamato juice I saved to make the Caesar's for a barbecue which changed its theme from Western to Asian? Yeah, down the drain. Together with expired seasoned kim from Korea. And the gourmet hot sauce made in New Zealand, handcarried by gourmand brother. With the candies from Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's and several children's parties... It is unconscionable and an absolutely unecessary waste that could've been put into better use.
I love to cook and entertain. I think having friends and family over is one of life's best experiences. And to see everyone enjoying a meal I've prepared with care (for the food) and love (for the guests), well, it truly is a gift. So it is ironic that though I live to eat, my family eat to live. S I G H... I suppose I just have to divorce the love of food and entertaining with being a flagrant consumer. And stop my Pavlovian response to food. I will do this, I know, for health and wealth, and because I think it is the right thing to do.
In the meantime, I am guessing I have a few hungry friends who will enjoy the fruits of this one vice.
- Krabi, Thailand made me homesick
It's funny how you go far away from home for that "much-needed break" only to be haunted by what is familiar. In my case, it was a return to Krabi, one of Thailand's lesser-known, beautiful seaside towns. There are plenty of similarities between Thailand and the Philippines, where I am originally from, gorgeous beaches with breath-taking sunsets being some of them.
We were fortunate enough to stay at our favorite resort in Krabi, Rayavadee, five years after our last visit. If it's at all possible, the resort was even better than what we remembered it to be, and that's saying a lot as it has always been one of the best places we've ever stayed at in Asia. They welcomed us back like long-lost friends, pleased to see that this time around, we have not one but two sons making the trip.
The ecologicaly sound but luxurious villas are two storey, cozy structures topped with a roof that resembles a local wide brimmed hat. The hat, looks exactly like the "salakot" that Filipino farmers wear to ward off the heat of the noonday sun as they till the land. I see the local vendors wearing the hat as they ply the shallow waters, offering everything from henna tattoes to impromptu massages on the beach. I smile and think the scene is probably being repeated in Boracay or Mindoro at that very moment.
The villas are surrounded by lush, landscaped gardens, each unit seemingly dropped into its own private Eden. The paths are shaded by the ubiquitous coconut trees, thoughtfully shed of its delicious but hard-shelled fruits (you wouldn't want one dropping on your head, something that happens when the fruit is "old" enough). Coconuts are of course, practically our national tree, and seeing so many of them swaying in the sultry breeze brought back a lot of memories of endless summers outside the capital. I wondered if I can cajole one of the staffers to climb one for us - it was always the best way to get a fresh coconut drink back home.
Frangipani, birds of paradise and bougainvillea dot the gardens; the same flowers that grow in our yard in Manila. The limestone cliffs remind me of the towering ones in Palawan, and the fine sand make me think of Boracay's own powder that would glow in the moonlight. The snorkeling around Krabi was good, but that just made me wish for the even more vibrant marine life in Anilao and Cebu.
The friendly staff of Rayavadee reminded me of Filipinos too. They always ask me where I am from, as they are always startled to find out that I am not Thai. "We are the same," they always say, pointing to our caramel skin color. I smile my agreement. With each trip I make, I see more and more similarities with the world and its people, rather than differences. I tell them, if you visit my country, they will think you are Filipino too.
As we explore the beaches, I can't help but think about the Philippines and its own beautiful coastlines... The Philippines is, after all, an archipelago of over 7,100 islands. Looking at Thailand's pristine beaches make me lament my own country's treatment of its resources. I can't help but compare the progressive laws that the Thai government has put into place to protect its landscape while promoting numerous towns as tourist destinations. I'm amazed at what Thailand has been able to accomplish in the last few decades, putting itself on the map while remaining true to its culture and traditions.
I pined for "home," the Philippines, where I was born and raised but haven't lived in in almost a decade. I dream of its beaches, its mountains, its valleys, its people... my country with all its heartbreaking problems. I look at its neighbor, Thailand, and hope for good things to happen to it as well. It took a visit to a different locale, yet so similar a place, to make me yearn for home.