Slow living means cooking at home. That’s what I have been doing since opting for a part-time teaching job. Since I’m new to cooking at home by myself, I rely on recipes I can get online. Luckily for me, there are lots of Filipino recipes for tinola, one of my favorite comfort foods.
I chanced upon Lalaine’s story below while looking for a tinola recipe. When we were growing up, just like Lalaine and her family, we always had to cook the whole chicken, including the liver and gizzard. Since there is only one liver, what my Dad would do was flavor the cooked liver with calamansi (known in Indonesia as kalamansi) and mash it until it resembled pate. Then we would all dip our chicken pieces inthe saucy mixture. The gizzard often went to Mom and Dad because according to my Mom, children shouldn’t eat it because it would make our ears hard. Hmm, I never did give that much thought, because when we were children, I believed everything my Mom would tell me.
So I thought that that’s how families would share their liver too. Until I found Lalaine’s recipe with a bittersweet introduction. For the first time, I realized that there is another Filipino family tradition when it comes to eating tinola together.
If Lalaine’s story made your heart feel heavy, perhaps another one by my friend, Baidy Mendoza, can give it a lift. On a recent trip to Manila, I verbally asked her permission to copy one of her stories from her self-published book, Clay People. I never tire of re-reading her stories and while doing so, I could hear her voice, as if she’s telling me her stories all over again. One day I will write another piece about Baidy, Filipino clay artist and lover of life, and her book, Clay People. For now, enjoy her story.
“Chicken Noodle Soup”
They were talking. She was Filipino and he was German.
Will I tell them about the chicken noodle soup, honey?
Oh the soup! You know, we nearly separated because of that soup.
He was furious really furious.
I had this letter from my mother. She had sent me a recipe of chicken soup.
It was the soup I remembered from my childhood.
It was a year after our wedding day.
And I wanted something to show and share with her, something German.
We shopped for each ingredient in the recipe until we had everything ready.
Always she does the cooking, but this time, I did the cooking.
I had the kitchen to myself and after one hour, there it was, the soup and the noodles.
Perfect! The real German chicken soup and noodles.
She came in and tasted it.
Then, she left and came back with Patis fish sauce.
She poured this into the sauce and dropped in the noodles.
I was speechless.
Never did we mix fish and meat!
The noodles would be a ruin.
I made a mistake marrying her.
This won’t work.
This is just impossible!
She just looked at me and enthusiastically, she filled her spoon and tasted it.
In ecstasy, she closed her eyes and relished it.
I followed suit. I took a spoonful.
It was incredible!
It tasted great!
Postscript: Do you have any chicken soup stories to tell? You may send them over in Tagalog, Indonesian, or English through my contact page and give me the permission to share them with this website’s readers in a follow-up blog post. Thank you!