Tuesday, April 27, 2004

West Side Intermission

Congrats to cousin Pat who gets to be an alternate for the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions. I guess if one of the top 15 chokes or bails he's in, kind of like being runner up in Miss America. So, they fly him out for a couple days of tourism and watch the taping of the show.

Spent the weekend in food. Had the SO's bro visit a day after we got back from NYC. Lucky him it was my uncle's birthday party with the spread of good eating. But first we hit up the Vallejo Farmer's Market in search of Ilokano style marinated baby bangus and longanisa. There's a woman there who sells it on Georgia Street at the Market. Alas, she's not there this weekend. Unfortunately she only goes to that market so you have to take your chances. But all is not lost! One of the fresh fish sellers is offering a slab of ahi tuna, sashimi grade for $5/lb (supermarket price $15-$20/lb). They forgot their knives so it's now or never. Their only cutting tool is half of a seashell. It's a lot of fish, but then again we're going to a party, and hard to beat a deal like that so we take the slab. As they add ice to the bag, I think of making kinilaw and Hawaiian Poke. I remember the taste of fresh kinilaw wherever I went in Mindanao. Most of my family won't eat raw fish. They think it's madumi. Then again we're from Pangasinan away from the coast and never get fish right from the sea.

But the surest bet for good eats at V-town's farmer's market is the freshly baked Senoritas at Banana Q's. People line up through the door for these rolled up finger sized buttery glazed morsels. When they're hot they're nicely crisp on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside and just enough sugar to get that caramelly taste. mmmmm.... You can easily down 6 of them in a few minutes.

At my uncle's party, everyone came with their best dish: igadoo, pinapaitan, pinakbet, shrimp lumpia, pancit palabuk, grilled oysters. Am hoping to catch my uncles and aunts mid cooking to see what their recipes are, especially my uncle's pinapaitan which is just the right balance of tartness and sweetness that has become legendary.

We spend the afternoon watching my cousin's kids try to poke each other's eyes out. They're all around 2 years old: selfish and matapang. One in particular likes to grab at people faces particularly the eyes when she doesn't like you. She'll run across the yard just to come after one of the other kids. Numerous times I've watched her parents practically tackle her just inches before she'll make a kid cry. It's actually quite funny but I know her parents are at a loss on how to stop her from this habit. It's not like there are dog trainers for toddlers.

My cousin's boyfriend bought a mini-motorcycle. I had seen one of these things a few weeks ago. It's the lastest crazy after those motorized scooters. I think they're totally insane. It's like squatting on a motorcycle with your knees sticking way out only a foot from the ground. I'm way too tall for that thing. Plus it can go like 40 mph. My uncle, who use to drive tricycles in the Philippines, takes a spin. You can see in his eyes, he's in love. It makes that high pitched buzzing like the tricycles in the PI too. The teenage boys just watch in envy. They all want to try, but know if they go anywhere their parents are going to come down on them so fast, they'll wish they had crashed on the motorcycle instead.

The eagle claw two year old likes the motorcycle too. Her mother tells me she loved riding the tricycles. The tot sees the bright ride motorbike just her size. I tell her mother, this little girl will be a biker mama one day. She already has that daring spirit. She tells me they don't plan on having any more kids.

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