After reminiscing about childhood food memories, the last topic of Lasang Pinoy, I can’t help but segue into more memories. With summer waning in the Philippines and summer just starting on this side of the hemisphere, summertime is fresh on all our minds. Summertime, with its lazy days, is the perfect time to let loose the Huck Finn in all of us. Not only does the weather make us want to get out of the hot house and loll under a tree, it also whets our appetites for anything cool and refreshing.
Whether you’re a child or just young at heart, summers with it’s carefree laconic days become some of the most memorable. Growing up in the Philippines, our summers always included time with our granparents in the province, in the farms. The older I get, the more I realize in the farms must have been where my love affair with food first started. Life in the farm revolved around food. Growing rice and vegetables that eventually appear on the table at one time or another; feeding chickens, pigs, goats and cows that also inevitably become dinner; gathering and harvesting edible plants that grow wild on the country side; and most fun of all for a child during summertime, any activity that involves water. But of course this activity not only includes frolicking in the coolness of the rivers and nearby beaches where my grandparents lived, food inevitably works it’s way into the picture. Our best riverside picnics were those that inluded that day’s catch whether it be a small fish netted or river snails and clams collected on the banks. There is something so satisfying about eating something that you caught and cooked on your own.
That hasn’t changed much for my children either. The location is different, the method more advanced, but the joy and the pleasure remains the same. Although my girls can be very girly girls, squemish over anything slimy, they still enjoy a day in the sun waiting for a fish to fall for their bait. And no matther how small their catch may be, there is nothing more delicious than the catch of the day. On this particular day, the girls caught perch which reminded me very much of the ’tilapia’ caught in my grandfather’s fish pond during our summer outings in the province when I was their age. Small, palm sized, but with meat firm and sweet with freshness clinging to the bones. I was tempted to cook these in the same manner my lola would have fixed them, “inpangat” with camias (which I didn’t have) or “paksiw” with vinegar (which I had), but the girls I know would not have tried them save for my eating buddy, Asi.
Their catch was simply dusted with a bit of cornmeal and seasoned with salt and pepper before being fried. We had to take their little heads off just so they won’t have to stare at the same woefull eyes that gazed at them at the end of their hooks.
As a preview of things to come, I’ll introduce this topic with a classic accompaniment to fried fish, EGGPLANT SALAD. This is a common recipe to the many picnics we had at my granparent’s farm after raiding the fishpond and nearby mango trees. It’s easy to make, and most of the time was made on the spot from eggplants and tomatoes gathered from nearby gardens.
Start by roasting your eggplants either in the oven or over the grill, peel, slice and add to the following ingredients in whatever proportions you like:
about 1 teaspoon of finely minced fresh ginger
Fish sauce (bagoong) or salt
Juice of half a lemon
Mix all ingredients together and adjust the amount of fish sauce or salt.
Join the next round of Lasang Pinoy and post your favorite way to cool off during the hot summer months. Perhaps you have a Huck Finnish summer adventure involving food. Share your stories, your recipes, your photos for this 11th round of Lasang Pinoy, SUMMERTIME COOLERS AND MEMORIES OF SUMMER.
You can post your entries in your blogs and send me the URL for the round-up at lasangpinoy-at-gmail-dot-com or jmomblogs-at-gmail-dot-com by the end of the month, June 30th.
If you are not a blogger but would like to contribute, email me and I can either post your entries here, or find someone who can host your entry.