Earth Hour

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pinoy Quirk 2: Eat all you can... and cannot

I attended two seminars this week which had a mix of local and foreign participants. In both occasions, we were given free buffet lunch.  Both meals were good but I witnessed another strange behaviour among my fellow participants.

The first instance happened in an inter-agency forum I attended.  While waiting in line for my turn to get my food from the buffet table, I noticed that some of the Filipino participants were taking so much time getting their food.  Three women seemed to be discussing what to get for lunch.  I just watched them as they continue their little chit chat while putting food in their plates.

When the women turned to go back to their seats my eyes almost popped out of their sockets when I saw their plates.  Each plate was so full, I swear the food in there was good enough for two people each.  Not only that, one of the plates have noodles hanging along the brim.  It was an embarrassing sight and mind you, the women are not the type that you would expect to behave that way. 

I looked around and discovered that several participants also filled their plates so much that one cannot blame someone who sees it and wonders whether there would be famine the following day.  The foreign participants, on the other hand, have just enough or even little food in their plates.

I thought that behaviour was only peculiar to that group but the same thing happened in the next seminar I attended.  This time, a group of men in their 40s was ahead of me in the line to the buffet table.  The men were talking about the topic of the last speaker but as they talked, they were busy piling food onto their plates.  By the time they finished, their plates were brimming and they put the food one on top of the other I swear it looked like a pile of leftovers.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with our French Language instructor.  He told us that he often wondered how we Filipinos are able to enjoy the taste of what we are eating because we often mix our food when we eat.  He told us that we should eat food one at a time.  Like don't eat fried chicken with spaghetti because you won't be able to enjoy the taste of each food.

I didn't see whether both groups ate everything they put in their plates because if they didn't, it would have been really stupid.

This leads us to another strange thing I observed about Filipinos eating in a buffet.  Some of us have the tendency to try everything on the buffet table even if it is the strangest looking food ever.  Well, it's okay to try everything once but there are really some of us who would get so much of the food and when they realized they don't like it, they just stop eating it and leave the food in their plates.  Such practice definitely leads to a lot of wastage so no wonder restaurants who offer buffet meals often have a "no left over policy"; leave something on your plate and you will pay a higher price.

This leaves me thinking about the admonition we often get when we were kids whenever we leave something on our plates, especially rice. 

The old folks would tell us that if we didn't eat everything in our plates and we die, St. Peter will stop us at the gates of Heaven and ask us to pick one by one the grains of rice we left on our plates.  Another version of this was that we would stay in Purgatory for years equivalent to the total number of rice grains we left on our plates.

With what is happening now, perhaps none of us learned from this lesson or we simply stopped believing in old folks' tales.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Little Tokyo

My brother and sister-in-law recently introduced me to a nice place in Makati City called "Little Tokyo".  It was called that way because within it is a cluster of Japanese food shops.  The shops were designed like the ones I've seen on cable TV.  Even the signages were in Japanese.

We had our lunch in a shop called "Hana".  From the little Japanese I understand, I know that hana means flower.  The interior of the place was also decorated with Japanese things.  The menu was in Japanese but the attendant who were Filipinos, were there to interpret what was in the list.  I ordered Gyudon to see how their version is different from those sold in local "Japanese" food shops.  My sister in law also asked for Takoyaki Balls, a popular snack made of rice batter and octopus strips.

We waited for our food while watching what was on TV, which was a news broadcast from Japan.  We couldn't understand anything that was said, of course but the visuals show a fire in an apartment complex.

Our order came after a few minutes.  The gyudon was really good.  The meat was very tender and the sauce was just right: not very sweet and not salty.  If you ask me if it is better than the others, I would readily say.  I think the ingredients used made all the difference.  

The takoyaki balls were also very good.  In fact, I have an aversion for this snack because on several occasions that I tried it in the malls, I always get disappointed because the balls were bland and the octopus strips were really tough.  The ones we tried in Hana were tasty and the octopus juicy and soft.

I was quite satisfied with my first dining experience at Little Tokyo.  There are other shops to try so maybe I could ask my brother and his wife that we go back sometime and try what the other shops have to offer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Smelling Memories

I'm not sure if some of you also experience this, but certain smells do bring back memories to me.  Some strong smells remind me of events, other subtle smells just places or people.   There are other scents that even evoke childhood memories.

The smell of fried eggs in the morning sometimes reminds me of the vacation we spent in Mindanao, when I was just 6 years old. I remember waking up early in the morning and seeing the farm animals, which were so novel to me then.  I swear that sometimes I could recall even the odor of the carabao that was being brought to pasture.

When I pass by old houses made of wood, the smell they emit reminds me of the one where my father grew up. It was an old house that has long been demolished to give way to a concrete structure.  I have fond memories of the birthday parties and reunions celebrated in that old house.  Even the aroma of ground coffee beans make me remember that house because my father's grandfather used to sell ground coffee in his store.  If anybody asks me, I can still draw from memory how that house looked like inside.

Whenever I go out of town, especially in rural areas, the scent of grass in the morning brings back memories of my college days.  The university I went to was at the foot of a mountain so mornings there greeted us with the smell of grass damp with morning dew.  Sometimes, that scent even makes me smile.

The fragrance of perfume also makes me remember places, events and people. One particular perfume often brings back high school memories.  Perhaps because that perfume was so popular when I was in high school.  I don't remember the name of that particular product but it was fruity and sweet.

Who would ever thought that the nose could be such a great recorder of memories.