Saturday, January 15, 2011

Round Goes the Lazy Susan

"To write only of the pleasures of eating would be pornography,"  an anonymous author wrote. Well, let me tell you. I might as well be writing one had my mother let us be. You see, there were seven of us whom she had to feed.  However, she was not without help. Us.

Every Saturday, I would wake up with my younger sister, Charie, at five in the morning to go to the wet market with my mother. We are who we are today because of her.

Before we could gain our footing, having to carry anywhere from five to ten baskets or "bayong", she would be out of our sight at the speed of light, onto her next stall. Imagine going through the endless maze of stalls in a crowded wet market to look for her.

When we got home, we were put to more tasks. One day, she assigned me to work in front of the stove. After only a few seconds stirring the steaming pot, she found me drenched with sweat. I was banished for eternity to do the "prep" work, which defined hard labor, after failing the test.

There would be days when my job included "magpili ng bigas" where I would have to pick out those black thingamajigs, grain after grain, until the rice was as white and ready to cook. Then, using her humongous mortar and pestle or "pandikdik", I would be pounding on a few kilos of peanuts to help make Kare-Kare

When we had to wake up earlier than normal to go to the wet market, it was because we needed to get that rare beef bone marrow to make a pot of steaming Nilagang Bulalo.

That also meant spending hours and hours removing each tip of a million pieces of bean sprouts, and not to forget the cloves of garlic, to make some Fried Lumpia with a dipping sauce of white vinegar seasoned with lots of garlic, salt and black pepper.

I also remember sitting on a wooden stool cum shredder, like those probably used by our forefathers, to shred some coconut. Laboring to squeeze kakang gata or the first extract of coconut milk made a delectable dessert of Ginataan.

One would probably be amazed at how she managed to make us do all these things. Well, it could have been because we all looked forward to our Sunday brunches around the table where, aside from sharing the best meals I ever had,  we discussed every topic that mattered to us as a family.

It was here where my father shared his stories about his adventures in the government as an honest law enforcer, and where our mother lectured on our country's economic and cultural struggles as she had experienced working as a social worker.

Most of all, this was where we all learned about the very important virtue of patience, having to wait for the lazy susan to turn our way to enjoy the menu for the day.

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