Friday, July 13, 2007

Pagkain, or On Food

Filpinos eat meat. I never met a vegetarian one, although I heard about a Filipino chef in New York who claimed to be a vegetarian, except that (like a good Filipino) he ate pork. In spite of, or perhaps because of, my waning appetite due to some stomach bug that has been plaguing me, my relatives have been searching for things that I can eat. The latest solution is to present me with the most “exotic foods” they can find. I called for a limit of one “exotic food” introduction per week. This week it was chicken feet. In some ways, it is the analogue to pizza in the US, because deep fried chicken feet is the bread and butter of college students here. For three pesos you can get two feet. For two more pesos you can get puso, a little ball of rice tucked in basket-woven coconut husks. So for five pesos, about the equivalent of eight cents, is a New York “slice.” Next week it will be BBQ’ed one-day old chicks. For fifty-one pesos (about one dollar) you can get eight hatchlings nestled into a hot dog container. I think the idea is to work up to monkey brains or dog. After seeing Un Chien Delicieuse, I feel that dog has “been done” and I have to ante up with the monkey brains.

I’ve been getting a lot of herbal healing tips here as well. After a previous summer in the Philippines where I counted over one hundred bites, I had armed myself with all these organic anti-mosquito balms and sprays with me. One day I found my little second cousin being smothered all over with wild honey that came from my mother’s village. The baby started licking as furiously as he could, retaining a sticky brown glow on his face, like a bad self-tanner. The parents said that it helped with the child’s very sensitive skin. And sure enough, the angry welts left by bug bites disappeared. Furthermore, for some strange reason, despite the fact that it was honey, nectar of the gods and bugs alike, no insect seemed attracted to the honey. I immediately began dabbing it all over me. Whoa. If there was an infomercial for this stuff, I would be one of those gushing satisfied customers. Wild honey is an anti-itch balm, an anti-inflammatory, and probably a good pimple antidote as well. The other thing someone tried to convince me of is the super-miraculous healing effect of squash. Both my cousin and his wife said they had to use glasses at one time. So they went on serving a day regimen of squash. Sure enough, as the tale goes, their eyes improved and they no longer require any corrective lenses. I took the challenge on, and am gamely eating squash pudding every day, sometimes twice a day, for one month.

Stevie Wonder, "He's Misstra Know it All," Innervisions

1 comment:

Kendra said...

I am most grateful to escape an environemnt (cubicle, midtown) which always reminds me of working on the inside of rigged slot machine and into the philippines. you're prose is sharp and well-shaped: keep it comin'. xoxo -kendra