Erwin Ines, cooking and writing from Canada, has decided to jump into the ripples of the butterfly effect. Here is his own take aptly entitled Paru-parong Bukid, which literally translates to “farm butterfly.” The meme’s guidelines are here. – Iska
It’s a dawn of a new day. I have seemingly been into a tunnel of a major trial and tribulation, which I feel I will abandon soon enough. It didn’t work to my expectation or to my desires. I would love to stay, but I know in the long-term or in the near future, this very, very short stint won’t positively workout. This sort of wandering brought me to an episode somewhere, lingering in my head, for about an hour so, specifically about my life here, which is now centred on food. I’ve immersed myself to this liking and went a bit overboard in this journey. I’ve missed a step, again, and I have to reconcile my thoughts and my wants against my urgent needs. In this particular quest, I would love to share my traipsing, my sojourn of eternal bliss, into this new adventure.
I was asked about several things regarding food and being a food aficionado: An Ingredient, A Dish or Recipe, A Meal, A Cookbook, A Chef or Food Personality, and Another Person in my Life. These topics cover most, if not many, of a food lover’s recipe to the past; a comforting sign of remembering those leisurely Sundays with family and friends while reinforcing the present and carving the future that lies somewhere. Below are my loving companion and motivation in the kitchen. They have shaped me as a person as I am now and gave me real inspiration to move on despite the harsh realities of being exposed in a kitchen work life.
I was only introduced to exotic and delectable ingredients very late in my life. I had the knowledge of the basics like Soy Sauce, Salt, Pepper and Sugar. However, the ingredient that stood out in the crowd was Wine.
Wine provides the punch and that unknown enigma around the tongue and palate in most of my dishes. Chinese wine, for example, lightens up a heavily darkened stew or barbeque and brings life and shine into a dish. Wine is perfect for deglazing a pan and creating fire. It’s so invitingly sweet and sensual with sweets, especially when drank with a mistress or a lover.
Funny, but the ingredient that goes with a dish, which I truly enjoy cooking and playing around with, is eggs. I love the smell of eggs, bacon and coffee in the morning. I love tossing the eggs on my saute pan for an ‘over easy’ and messing up another one for a ‘scrambled.’ Eggs prepared in simple and creative ways or mixed with breads and butter are my real preference. Eggs are very versatile. Eggs and milk are born partners, inseparable in many Western cooking.
There are many unforgettable meals in my lifetime, but the most unforgettable one was the Suckling Pig over at Casa Armas in Manila. In the mid or late 1990’s, when Casa Armas was still growing and hadn’t opened its doors to many, it offered the most sumptuous Suckling Pig ever. My mouth and my unconscious being dreams and craves about that meal, that perfectly crispy and brown pig’s skin. Moreover, the pig’s meat was very juicy and tender that it melts instantly in the mouth. Next to the pig is the Steakhouse found at the Sheraton Hotel in Hong Kong. I had forgotten the name of the place, but that restaurant took my spirits to limbo and my head to never land. I was certainly gratified after having a bite of their luscious steak.
The rise of the Food Network brought about countless publications of cookbooks. However, the cookbook that stood out from the rest, which I dearly loved, was ‘The Yan Can Cook Book’ by Martin Yan. This cookbook was first published in 1981 when Martin Yan was still starting his career. It was also a gift from my mom on my birthday, which further added some value to its already abused and discoloured state. This book taught me the basics of Asian, specifically Chinese, cooking and took me out of the Soy Sauce and Oyster Sauce syndrome common in the 1980’s.
When I was in High School, I also watched and loved Stephen Yan. He had talent at that time, messy and funny as he was. As I grew up, Martin Yan came along and taught me more about Asian flavours and spices. He struck a chord and some how made me think about Canada, the USA and Switzerland. Stephen and Martin started their careers in this side of the world. Speed up time to twenty (20) years later and came the installation of cable TV and the introduction of The Food Network. A time capsule jetted me to Toronto, instantaneously a dream I had nurtured had finally come true, aghast!
In this new era, the Chef I certainly enjoy watching and learning from is Chef Michael Smith. He’s Canadian and he does know about mixing and matching ingredients. His recipes are so balanced and smooth. He went through almost everything I have learned in Culinary School 1 and even more, which I haven’t even taken yet. All these topics are packed in a 30-minute segment. Moreover, he provides insights into Professional Operated Kitchens, which, in my opinion helps aspiring Chefs to look beyond hotels and restaurants. He’s motto: Simplicity. True.
A Person(s) in My Life
There are two (2) persons in my life that have motivated and inspired me to work hard for everything: my dad and my sister. My dad truly made me work for every peso I earned. He exemplified hard work, patience and simplicity, comfortable living. He spoke to me about the future and left me to decide on my own. Whether they were the best for me or not, these decisions were a learning inspiration.
My sister never stops giving me good advice about my career. Her generosity and kindness resonate, her love, unconditional. She has continuously supported me in my journey and I am very thankful and appreciative to her for that.
The life of a food aficionado is a challenging experience. There are hardships, there are painful criticisms, but most all, there are people out there with tummies and stomachs in despair. “I’m not care!” as my Bulgarian co-worker would say, but deep inside, I know he enjoys what he does as you and I enjoy what we discuss about: FOOD.