Monday, December 5, 2011

Still Thankful But... Can I Rant?

Thanksgiving is not normally celebrated in my country, the Philippines.  But recently, maybe because of the internet and various social networking sites, the practice of celebrating an actual day for giving thanks is kinda getting on. I mean, why the hell shouldn't it?  Certainly, we must have something to be thankful for in our lives no matter how big or small it may be.  There is also no Thanksgiving holiday in Manila but in our home, we cook something a little more special for Thanksgiving.  Last year's was Roasted Cornish Hens and Fried Mac and Cheese and my Fudge Brownies.  This year, I wasn't even home as I was with my family in Philadelphia where we feasted on an American-Vietnamese spread. The shrimp dish in this lunchbox came from a recipe from that menu which I promised to make for him.

Speaking of giving thanks, my boy and I get into this talk every time he rants or complains about mundane things such as a game not loading fast enough, the internet being too slow, some game he played not being entertaining enough, his team mates in Warcraft or whatever on earth it is called ganged up on him, etc. etc.  I'm telling you, if there's a ranting contest out there, I'm going to be first in line to register my boy because I am sure that we will win.  Times like these, I reply by listing down all the blessings he has received in the year alone and I get this look--this "you're making me feel bad about myself" look like I had to make him feel guilty because he's so blessed.  Which is so beside the point.  I don't know what to do.  Maybe being thankful for a life such as his is a view beyond the grasp of a 13 year-old boy (he's turning 14 this weekend).  I mean he is thankful on a daily basis for the food I make for him and for little things.***sighs***

I'm telling you, the most difficult thing to become is not becoming a doctor, or a lawyer, or a rocket scientist.  The most difficult thing to become is becoming a parent.  It is of course the most fulfilling too, but dang...It's tough!  Now let me rant about that...

Today's lunchbox:  Crispy Fried Shrimp with Onions and Peppers (I have no name for this, can you see?), Steamed Rice

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And We're Back...

After a two week absence, we are finally back.  And today, I am happy to post something from my recent trip to visit my family in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia. The two weeks I spent there enriched me in so many, many ways which does not exclude extra poundage thereby giving me an extra difficult time getting into my jeans these days.  And that my friends, is by no means, a bad thing.  Not if you've been fed as well as I've been.  It was a culinary, cultural and emotional trip like no other.  Definitely one for the books!  :-)

Let's begin the culinary annotations with the Di Bruno Brothers (since the contents of today's lunchbox came from this wonderful haven for foodies like you and me).  My sister, Christina, took me to this  top culinary spot in Philly and I am certain that this will be one of the most vivid memories I shall keep in my entire life.  The look, smell and feel of the store will forever be etched in my mind.  You see it sits right in the middle of Philly's Little Italy and has been there since 1939.  It was set up by, well, the Di Bruno brothers initially as a grocery and has since evolved to the epicurean destination that it is now.  It is a primarily a cheese store but not devoid of specialty cured meats that I formerly only dreamed about.  Being inside the store is, well, what does a food lover do inside an artisanal food store?  Go crazy of course.  

For today, I made use of  Guanciale which is actually cured pork drawn from the jowls of the pig.  Mario Batali mentions this too often and I finally got hold of some after years of just imagining what gustatory nirvana it held secret within its layers of fat and meat.  And  I just have to say that it was truly worth the wait.  Now, I'd been cursed with the Guanciale madness as I wonder how to replicate the experience when we run out of this unforgivably sinful meat.

And then I brought home some Burrata, a creamy version of mozzarella di buffala filled with a ricotta-ish filling made fresh daily at Di Bruno Brothers.  I'd been forewarned that the cheese is best eaten the day it's made, but what the heck?  I wanted to have this cheese with my boy and even after a day of traveling, the boy and I, cried oohs and aahs as we sank our teeth on some bruschetta I made with it.

I have often wondered what I have ever done to deserve such a trip.  Was I good?  Have I been doing things correctly?  Have I paid for my sins?  Have I done enough?  But whatever it was that I did to deserve such gifts of travel and food, I am thankful beyond words.  I am thankful for the opportunity to be with my brothers, sister and family out there in Philly--to be able eat wonderfully diverse food and drink beautiful wine, to share our stories from the last decade of our lives, to laugh about our foolishness, to cry about our past loves.  But most of all, I am thankful for the opportunity to tighten the bonds of family with a love that I know will grow more and more in the succeeding years of our lives.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Today's lunchbox:  Pasta Carbonara with Guanciale, Bruschetta with Burrata, Passata and Extra Virgin Olive Oil

See you tomorrow!