Food · Memories · Personal · Travel

A (Food) Trip Down Memory Lane

When you love something with blinding passion, you would loathe the day it would be taken away from you.

That is especially true when it is stolen by family and friends, just like in my case.  The people I trusted revealed themselves as filthy thieves, robbing away the thing that I love the most.

They steal my food!

Some are hungry foxes, who check if the coast is clear before zeroing in on their targets: the refrigerator, where I keep my leftover pizza. They have mastered the art of not getting caught and feigning innocence.

Some are shameless swindlers who commit the crime right in front of my face. The moment the waiter comes to take our order, the deception begins.

While I order food for myself, the thieves will say he or she is “not hungry”, and will just order water. But when the food arrives, they will distract me with an amusing chat, and before I know it, only half of my order remains!

Oh, you thought when I said “tara, kain (let’s eat)”, that was a serious invitation? I was just following the Filipino custom of politely offering food when someone catches me eating.

Get your own food. What’s mine is mine.

Food is a personal matter. I believe what makes it so are the memories associated with it. The exact same food may taste different to you and I, not just due to preferences, but because of memories.

For example, no matter how many types of food we are able to taste in our lifetimes, home-cooked meals will always have a special place in our hearts.

For me, sinigang cooked in our home will always be the best. Sinigang is a Filipino stew which consists of pork, vegetables, and tamarind.

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Sinigang! (Photo is from panlasangpinoy.com. Credit belongs to the owner. See the recipe for sinigang here.)

The mention of sinigang evokes memories of sitting with one foot up the chair, temples dripping with sweat as one savors a bowlful of effort and thoughtfulness.

Home is where pork is tenderized for hours, and soup is made extra sour– sinigang cooked just the way I like it.

In college, I became an exchange student in South Korea for a year. For some time, home-cooked Filipino meals were replaced by Korean food. Interestingly, the dishes I remember from the country are not the most sophisticated ones, but those filled with memories of time spent with friends.

Our favorite midnight snack was KFC– Korean Fried Chicken! It’s a party at every pop with its endless flavor variations:  pizza chicken, soy chicken, spicy chicken, snow cheese chicken, spring onion chicken, and so much more!

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Choose your dream-come-true. (Photo from blog.bnbhero.com from this article. Credit belongs to the owner.)

Fried chicken is celebratory food, whether enjoyed in Korea at 4 o’clock am while playing with board games, or home-cooked in the Philippines and eaten with dollops of banana ketchup.  No occasion needed; being together is reason enough to celebrate!

Another food I remember was Chicken Mayo, served in our school cafeteria. Chicken Mayo consists of chopped chicken nuggets, shredded dried seaweed, mayonnaise, and special sauce, topped on rice— basically deconstructed rice balls, simple ingredients who would have thought would go together so well?

Not exactly gourmet and not even a distinctly Korean cuisine, I love it because it’s reminiscent of the food concoctions my sister and I used to make at home when we were young.

My sister and I pretended to have our very own cooking show, acting in front of the camera as we demonstrate how to prepare a dish we invented.

On our menu: corn chips with jelly, sweet potato with crackers and cheese spread. Like chicken mayo, the combination doesn’t have to make sense, as long as it tasted good— or at least, we are having too much fun to double check if it truly does!

Finally, my favorite Korean sweet treat, hotteok (sweet pancakes with brown sugar filling). For me, the hotteok from Sambodang Insadong is the best.

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The beeeeeeeeeest. (Photo is from purlou.com, from this article. Credit belongs to the owner.)
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Hotteok. A nutritionist’s nightmare. Still salivating. (Photo from mangoplate.com from this article. Credit belongs to the owner.)

Served piping-hot, with generous filling and just the right fluff, they are the chewiest hotteoks I have ever tasted. Definitely worth scalding your palate for!

I have eaten that particular Hotteok in Insadong thrice, and all were good moments.

First, on a fieldtrip to Seoul.

We were staying in Korea for just a few weeks by then. A bite of hotteok was a surprise, a new type of sweetness I didn’t know was possible. A taste of wonder, a whiff of newly-opened suitcases and flowers that bloomed after a long winter.

Second, with my sister and her now husband, as they visited me in Korea.

By this time I had been in Korea for several months already. The hotteok tasted of finding solace in both the good and the bad.

Third, on a solo trip in Seoul a few days before our flight back home.

Longing for both the place I will soon leave and a home I haven’t seen in a long time, hotteok has been a sweet, warm comfort as I deal with bittersweet feelings. The hotteok was made exactly the way I like it, as if it was made just for me. As if it was made at home.

Then that’s when it hit me: Korea is now also my home.

Isn’t it fascinating? One goes out to explore what lies beyond the home, but in the end, finds home in every place, before even attempting to search for it.

There is no such thing as home away from home, because through food, anywhere in the world can be a home.

Because now I enjoy food not just through myself, but through the people I eat it with.

Food can be enjoyed alone, but food is best shared. Because anywhere you can enjoy food with the people you love can be home.

Home is not minding if someone ate the food you kept in the refrigerator, because that person may be hungry and too tired to cook something for herself.

Home is ordering a bit extra because perhaps, the friend just did not have money to buy her own.

When I say “tara kain”, I mean it. What’s mine is yours. We’re home.

Tara, kain!

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Agree with Me, Idiot!

Only my opinion is right. Anyone who disagrees is the dumbest creature to ever grace the face of the earth.

This seems to be the common theme of disputes in the comment section of social media sites. Topics may range from serious, like President Rodrigo Duterte’s performance, to more trivial ones, like whether Liza Soberano is the right fit to be the next Darna.

“You praised President Duterte? You’re a Dutertard!

“You criticized President Duterte? You’re a Yellowtard!”

“You like Liza Soberano? You’re stupid, my idol is better than yours!”

“You don’t like Liza Soberano? You’re an insecure, ugly b*tch!”

What could have been an avenue for open discourse is reduced to mere name-calling.

Where is all this coming from? Perhaps it emanates from our strong adherence to our personal philosophies.

Our principles guide us in deciding whether something is right or wrong. Since we were born, these principles were honed by various factors in our environment: religion, education, social status, and many more. As we grow older, we are able to construct our own beliefs more independently, and they may change or remain.

Conflicts often arise when we encounter people whose judgment diverge from ours. We might perceive the opposing opinion as a direct insult to our beliefs. Even if sometimes it wasn’t done intentionally by the other camp, it’s as if they were insinuating that we are dumb.

So some lash back by resorting to ad hominem, commenting on the “enemy’s” intelligence level, looks, social status, and other things irrelevant to the argument.

I admit, my short-fused self is sometimes guilty of this too. But we should remind ourselves; who made a single person or group the sole authority to judge of what is right? How can we expect different people to have the same views? What made our own opinion superior from others that we can shame and bully them for it?

The desire to be right should not overtake kindness.

As aforementioned, the hodgepodge of factors we were exposed to affect the beliefs we hold now. If say someone grew up in an environment where one of these factors were changed compared to what they are now, say a person was raised in a different religion or entered a different school, there is no way to say that the opinions he or she holds now will still be the same.

For example, if a person is born wealthy and hold a particular view on poverty, that may have been different if, in an alternate universe, he or she experienced living in poverty firsthand.

Or, if someone’s parents happened to atheists instead of devout worshippers of a religion, then that person’s outlook on religion might have been different than what he or she has now.

Viewing it from this perspective, we should be more open to the idea of other people having different opinions than ours.

Therefore, let us be diverse, but not divisive.

A quote by George Bernard Shaw goes, “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.”

Let’s imagine for a second that the optimists and the pessimists in the quote were inventing the airplane and the parachute side by side, and they were hell-bent on dragging each other down.

The optimists would have probably torn down the parachute and the pessimists would have disassembled the airplane piece by piece. They will also hurl hurtful words that will pull down each other’s morale.

No team would have been able to finish anything.

Divergent opinions are exciting. Imagine if we all think and act the same. How boring would it be to meet only multiples of ourselves everywhere!

Divergent opinions are healthy and necessary for us to see all sides of the issue. When we like something too much, more often we become blind to its pitfalls. Hearing the views of the other side will lead us to a better understanding not only of the other side’s arguments, but our own as well.

If the goal is to convince, or at the very least, show the opposing team what it’s like on the other side of the fence, then let us do it in a respectful manner. No one enjoys being treated condescendingly.

At the end of the day, the one we are talking to might not change his or her mind. But at least we helped in widening another person’s perspective, and likewise we became more open-minded and sympathetic as well.

How about next time, instead of plunging headfirst into scorching conflict, maybe we can try this first?

First, count 1-10, or however long is needed to calm ourselves. Breathe in, breathe out. Let us calm ourselves so that we may have our emotions under control.

Second, set an atmosphere that is welcome for a healthy discussion. Both parties should have equal chances to talk, without interruptions. Listen, not just to think of what to say next, but to actually understand. One may come to convince, but should also be open to the idea of being convinced. Some of the beliefs we hold through the years may reveal themselves obsolete upon closer inspection. It’s not a sin to change our opinions, entirely or partially.

Third, agree to disagree. Sometimes, opinions are just way too polarized to attempt a compromise. Agreeing to disagree means both parties know they won’t change their minds about the matter, but both recognize that it’s unnecessary to put the other down just for having a different opinion.

With these, disputes will get solved more easily.

You might disagree with me, and it’s okay. I don’t claim to be an expert of anything. If you don’t agree, then argue with me. Let’s discuss.

But first, let us promise that no one will be called an idiot.

Food

Katsu Later! Yahoo for Yabu ^^

My boyfriend received his first salary from his new job, so he treated me to a delicious meal!

We went to Yabu at SM Megamall for a late lunch at 4pm (!!!).

Of course by this time we were starving: we were so close to licking the pictures on the Yabu menu! But we managed to remain civilized and ordered two things: Rosu Katsu Set (80g), and Hire Katsu Burger. I chose them carefully, considering umami taste, crunch, and mouthfeel. (Not really, they were just the cheapest LOL.)

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Rosu (Pork Loin) Set: Katsu with shredded cabbage, rice, miso soup, and pineapples.

On the menu, Rosu (Pork Loin) Set is described as Thick & juicy pork cutlet with a trimming of fat. This set comes in 180 grams, 120 grams, and 80 grams. We ordered the 80 grams. I worried that it would be too small for my humongous hunger, but it wasn’t; it was enough to split between us, without us feeling deprived!

The description said the katsu said it comes with a *trimming* of fat, but I, with my trust issues and all, thought it has a substantial amount of fat. I guess I’m so used to karinderya porkchops which are mostly thick slabs of fat with a bit of meat. Good thing, I didn’t feel the fat in the Rosu katsu at all. I didn’t get distracted by the jelly-like texture of fat, which I don’t like. Perhaps it was only a thin layer, which only deepened the flavor of the katsu.

Yabu serves unlimited rice, cabbage, soup, and fruits with its set meals. Of course we had these refilled, as we never fail to take advantage unlimited food!

Our other order was the Hire Katsu Burger:

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Hire Katsu Burger

According to the menu, the Hire Katsu Burger consists of 3/4-inch thick, crunchy and juicy pork cutlet topped with shredded cabbage, shiso leaves, Japanese pickles, drizzled with soy butter, sando sauce and onion jam, in a brioche bun.

To be honest, I didn’t really read this before ordering. I was too hungry to care. Anything with “burger” on its name can’t possibly go wrong. I researched these ingredients as I was writing the blog. I just expected lettuce, cheese, and ketchup, but when it was served, and when I took my first bite, I was taken by surprise.

Now that I knew the ingredients, it all makes sense now; no wonder the burger is so tasty! It has so many ingredients on it, and most are unfamiliar to me.

The burger arrests the appetite with its unfamiliar, yet mouthwatering, aroma. A bite is an explosion of tastes; a festival for the senses.

A place with katsu as its specialty better be sure it has damn good katsu, and in terms of that, Yabu did not disappoint. Also, with the unlimited rice, cabbage, and fruits, it is assured that you will have your fill and value for your money.

The servers were attentive and polite. They refilled everything without being told.

Of course, the experience was also made special by celebrating with a loved one!

I also had fun because I played a bit. I challenged myself to pick up the smallest bread crumb possible, using chopsticks. People say don’t play with food, but I was just trying to eat slowly, and also buy time and make the moment last longer.

Overall, it was a yahoo for Yabu!

Goodbye for now, katsu! Kastu later!

Yabu: House of Katsu has several branches spread across the metro. Check out their facebook page here!

Personal

Father’s Day 2017 Message

Father’s day was more than a week ago, but let me belatedly share with you my message for my father, which I posted on my Facebook acoount.

Since my parents got into Facebook, they look forward to lengthy messages on special occassions. As a dutiful daughter, I am willing to oblige. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to show appreciation, right? I think people should be generous with kind words. It’s one of the easiest ways to spread happiness and love!

Just for a bit of context, my father is an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker). Because he works abroad, we only get to see him a maximum total of two months a year.

Below is my message for my dad:

My dad’s luggage is made of magic. No matter how packed it is, there will always, always be room for more pasalubong requests. Cup noodles? Rice crackers? Chocolates? A bag? Feeding bottles? More cup noodles with bulkier packaging? They all go in.

Expandable yet sturdy, fickle yet reliable, the luggage takes after its owner’s heart. ❤

So don’t worry dad. They do say I am so much like you, looks, gestures, quirks, and all. I also aspire to have a heart as big as yours. So even if I now have a boyfriend, and no matter what happens in the future, you will always have a place in my heart solely reserved for dads- immovable and impenetrable.

To the captain of our ship; thank you for steering our lives to greater shores. I’ve lost count of how many father’s day celebrations you had to miss due to the nature of your work. Although you may not be present most of the time, you never stopped being a dad for us.

Happy father’s day daddy! Have a good one!!! 😀

Food

Pepero: Peppered with Memories

Yesterday, my boyfriend gave me a box of Pepero. It’s almond, my favorite Pepero variant! And it has this adorable pun at the front of the box:

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Isn’t he the sweetest? And isn’t this the cutest? ^^

I turtley love it!!!

Like most Pepero boxes, it has a portion at the back of the box where one can write letters. I think Pepero is a thoughtful gift for special occassions.

For those who are unfamiliar, Pepero is a sweet snack that looks like this:

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Pepero Almond. Image taken from Wikipedia.com.

Basically, they are biscuit sticks coated with chocolate or something else, depending on the flavor. There’s chocolate, strawberry, cookies and cream, and many more!

As I mentioned, almond is my favorite because I love the crunchy almond bits, which go so well with the chocolate.

Pepero is memorable for my boyfriend and I because I gave him one on the day I agreed for us to be officially a couple! ♥♥♥ I gave him Pepero because the date then was November 11, or Pepero Day.

Pepero Day is observed by some people in South Korea. Those who celebrate it give Pepero to their loved ones on this day. The exact origin of the event is unknown, but one of the most popular stories is that it came from the date it is celebrated, November 11, or 11/11. The number ones on that date resemble the Pepero, that is why it is celebrated on this date.

Besides our anniversary memory, and the recent pun-ny Pepero moment, I also had other Pepero moments in the past.

My guy friend gave my friends and I Pepero on Valentine’s back in 2013.

That was so sweet, especially I was single back then, so I wasn’t expecting to receive any sweets. The sweetness of both the Pepero and the gesture almost made me forget of the bitterness I felt for being single.

Also, I buy my mother Pepero as pasalubong whenever I can. Almond is her favorite, too!

My mother loves Pepero. She often has a stock of it in her room’s food stash, which I am guilty of periodically raiding.

My mother never gets fat even if she loves chocolates and snacks! Lucky her! I’m so envious. T-T But maybe I get fat because I eat most of her food. :))))

Pepero has been present in many sweet moments in my life. I’m looking forward to more memories we will have with Pepero!

To know more about Pepero and other products from Lotte, visit lotte.com.ph.

Food

Review: Tokyo Bubble Tea Sakura Unicorn Milkshake

You mean, it’s instagrammable AND yummy?!

I avoid milkshakes because I hate getting sore throats whenever I drink too much of them.

But then, I saw this image from facebook:

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Image taken from Tokyo Bubble Tea Ph Facebook page.

Look at those colors! It’s what childhood dreams are made of! How can I resist?!

I did try. But after seeing several friends posted pictures of the Sakura Unicorn Milkshake on Instagram, I was too envious. I just had to have some,too!

So, my boyfriend and I went to Tokyo Bubble Tea at SM Megamall.

We had two flavor choices for the Sakura Unicorn Milkshake: Strawberry and Taro. Since taro is less common, we decided to order this flavor.

We order the large size and shared it between us, because we are a sweet, #relationshipgoals couple like that. Actually, we’re saving money LOL! Also, I’m making myself believe I’m on a diet HAHAHA!

So this is how our Sakura Unicorn Taro Milkshake looked like:

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FRONT VIEW. They didn’t put it in a tall glass like the ones in the poster. This one looks like a beer mug. Maybe because it was large sized? Good thing it’s still pretty!
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TOP VIEW. Edited with one of my favorite facebook sticker packs,  Emoticat.

The Sakura Unicorn Milkshake consisted of:

  • Taro milkshake (purple)
  • Tapioca balls
  • What I believe to be ice cream (pink, blue, and green)
  • Vanila ice cream
  • Pink, round candy sprinkles
  • The bottom of a cone,coated in white chocolate and rainbow candy sprinkles
  • Edible golden ball. We’re so rich like that, we eat gold! Haha!

It sure looks good, but how about the taste? The Sakura Unicorn Taro Milkshake was creamy and milky. It tastes like molten ice cream! It was sweet, but not too sweet. I expected its sweetness to be overpowering, but it wasn’t, which is a plus!

The Sakura Unicorn Taro Milkshake tasted more like milk than taro. Not that I’m complaining. I wasn’t particularly craving for taro, I just wanted a pretty drink which tastes good, and the Sakura Unicorn Taro Milkshake (yes, I have to include the “Sakura Unicorn” part all the time, because when can I type these words together again? ♥♥♥) deliciously delivers.

The Sakura Unicorn Milkshakes sell for Php155 for medium and Php165 for large, for both strawberry and taro flavors.

By the way, there’s an additional service charge. We ended up paying around Php180, so just do the math, I’m not good with numbers LOL. XD

But it’s okay, the servers were attentive and courteous. They refilled our water multiple times even before we asked for it. I hope they get paid well with the service charge and all, ’cause waiting tables is a hard job, and they have to serve rude customers sometimes too.

I just suggest that if Tokyo Bubble Tea will continue this line of drinks, and not make it a limited edition flavor, then they should invest in more attractive glassware that will go better with the drink. The beer mug just doesn’t suit it that much.

But the drink was a real treat. Overall, we had a good time!

For a list of their branches, and other drinks and food they offer, check out the Tokyo Bubble Tea Ph Facebook page!

 

 

 

 

Travel

Disco Pang Pang

Don’t let that cute name fool you!

To those who are unfamiliar, the Disco Pang Pang is an amusement park ride. I have seen it in our university festival in Korea, and inside one of the buildings in the city center of Cheonan.

Watch Lizzy of Kpop girl group After School and unit group Orange Caramel ride the Disco Pang Pang below:

The Disco Pang Pang looks like a disk with railings.  Someone who’s like a DJ plays music and teases the riders before and during the ride. That, with the cheesy music, creates an amusing atmosphere.

So, compared to roller coasters and drop towers, it does not look intimidating.

But before you know it, you are holding on for dear life as the ride rotates round and round, up and down— and there are no seat belts! Some actually slide off their seats and slip to the middle of the disk! After some time, the ride would stop and some people would playfully dance in the middle.

People would laugh and relax… until the chaos starts all over again!

Here is a video of Block B on the ride:

I first experienced Disco Pang Pang in our university spring festival. I underestimated it’s power. But after the ride, my arms were so sore I can’t even high five my friends without wincing in pain.

At least we can put our hands on our bellies as our bodies are still deciding whether to laugh our hearts out, or puke our guts out. :))

Maybe next time I ride the Disco Pang Pang, I’ll invite my friends to take on challenges, just like Park Myung Soo did:

Brushing teeth on the Disco Pang Pang?! As if solely riding it wasn’t a challenge enough! XD