Author: Pao Alfonso

Beer Batter

I recently started a journal that’s all about cooking and food. It’s not a compilation of recipes but more on my thoughts about the process of cooking and learning about it. Anything I find interesting about food and our relationship with it. This particular entry is about using beer in fish fillet batter and why it tastes so much better. I’ve never liked drinking alcohol. Back when I was younger, I used to drink but strictly just to go along with work friends. I hated how alcohol tastes, especially beer. I hated how I felt while drinking and especially after drinking. I think I can count with one hand the number of times I tried drinking alcohol. So I was hesitant at first about using it in the batter for fish fillet. Surprisingly, the resulting dish doesn’t taste like beer at all. The batter is crunchy and remains crunchy longer, and the fish inside is moist and tender. Beer and its components help the cooking process along. It’s pretty interesting, these transformations that are invisible to the eyes that happen while food cooks.

Pain Perdu

I’m trying to revive my all-food journal again. I keep trying to compile food journal entries in one place but my mind keeps wandering and I keep writing about different things. I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked”, and I finished reading his other book “In Defense of Food” a few weeks back. His books inspire me to be more circumspect about food and to enjoy the process of cooking, especially now that we’re always home. Hopefully I can write more about it.

On Religious Legalism

My journal entry last Monday was about religious fundamentalism and legalism, and how incongruous it is to the example of Jesus. I won’t go into the many details of that but I have to admit that I wrote this because of a deep disappointment I’ve been feeling about many of the Christians in my life recently, and it came to a boiling point with the issue about Ben Tulfo’s very revealing statement on rape. As in revealing of his state of mind. Continue reading “On Religious Legalism”

Ink Swab: Vinta Laguna 1605

Next up in my review of their Heritage collection is Vinta’s Laguna 1605 (St. John’s). The name is from St. John’s Parish in Calamba, Laguna which was built in 1605. The church is known for its brick red exterior and baroque architecture. The color of the ink reminds me more of rose petals. Those blood-red roses which has petals that go from dark red (almost black) to rich, velvety red. I think this color reminds me of De Atramentis Thomas Alva Edison or Red Black, except it’s redder. This is the kind of red that’s suitable for daily writing.

I would put the flow at moderate to slightly wet. It’s nicely saturated, and at first look it doesn’t look like it has shading, but it does. It doesn’t have any noticeable sheening. I like that it dries up in a color that’s dark cherry red, not like magenta or oxidized blood. I would say it’s a true red black. I’ll go back to this page a few months later to see if it changes color over time.

Here are a few close ups of the writing sample:

Continue reading “Ink Swab: Vinta Laguna 1605”

Ink Swab: Vinta Makopa 1938

I’m catching up on my reviews of Vinta’s new ink collection. I barely had the chance to do anything fun like this during quarantine. Today’s review is of Makopa 1938 or Malayan Apple. Also called rose apple or java apple, I believe. Its scientific name was first pubished in 1938, hence the number on the Filipino name. I had to Google what makopa looked like because I had already forgotten about it, but there was a time in my childhood when we ate this fruit every week. We attended a church with makopa trees planted around it and the fruit was plentiful. We just picked them up and ate them with salt.

This ink color is a bit hard to pin down, at first it looks like dark purple, but under certain lights and as it dries up, the pink really shows through. It ends up being somewhere between purple and pink, and with a beautiful gold sheen. The sheen is even noticeable in Midori Cotton paper, which is what I used for the writing sample above. When you mix water with it, it really shows the light pink, red, a bit of yellow. It’s nicely saturated so it doesn’t show off a lot of shading except if you use Tomoe River paper. It flows wet too, so the nib just glides on paper. I think the color is close to Pilot Iroshizuku Yama Budo. This one will be legible even with fine or xf nibs. Here are a few close ups of the writing sample.

Continue reading “Ink Swab: Vinta Makopa 1938”

Lockdown Diaries

Metro Manila has been on lockdown for 11 weeks. Only one person is allowed to go out of the house because only one quarantine pass per household is issued, and we can only go out during a certain window of time, 3 days a week (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday).

I have not been outside our home for over 11 weeks.

I keep a Hobonichi cousin, and I use the weekly pages to make short daily summaries at the end of the day. Just an overview of how the day went, along with a few to-do items. Here’s a collection of my weekly pages from the past 11 weeks of community quarantine. I included a simple drawing of what we had for lunch daily. It takes a few seconds to illustrate, these tiny drawings, but this little ritual has kept me calm and sane these past eleven weeks. It’s also a bit quirky, keeping track of what we eat no matter what that is. You can see the weeks when I made more of an effort to cook healthier food instead of relying on processed food that are quick to prepare. 11 weeks’ worth of daily summaries, showing what my life had been like in community quarantine. These daily summaries don’t take up a lot of time, but what they did for me in terms of my mental and emotional health is incalculable.

Aside from these weekly pages, I also write longer daily entries that include Covid cases and deaths in the Philippines and worldwide. The first day that I recorded these tallies was back in March 11, when we had only 33 cases in the country and no deaths. Fast forward to today, when the global tally is already over 6 million. I don’t subscribe to the idea of toxic positivity, where you only focus on the positive no matter what. I subscribe more to the eyes wide open school of thought. We’re going through extraordinary times, and it’s important that we be honest about what’s happening not just around us but also inside us. It takes more courage to face the facts, after all, and it’s an important process in being able to see what’s happening in a larger historical context.

Tomorrow we’re allowed to go out, with some restrictions. I am looking forward to seeing what the world outside looks like. We won’t be in lockdown anymore, but I know that life isn’t going back to normal anytime soon. We’re slowly inching our way to some sense of normalcy, and nobody knows what the next few days will be like. I think it will be interesting to read my journal entries for this year someday, several years from now, when we’ve put COVID behind us.

Continue reading “Lockdown Diaries”

Parker Duofold Junior

My husband’s early anniversary gift to me arrived today. It’s over a month early, but I don’t mind. 🙂 It’s a Parker Duofold Junior in jade green. It’s the first Duofold in my collection. I believe this double-ringed model is a streamlined version, which was released sometime in 1928. Aside from the design clues, I can’t pinpoint exactly when this was made because the markings on the barrel have already rubbed off. You can see how the barrel has become discolored due to its age. The material looks very similar to my Sheaffer Lifetime Jade. It’s really almost the same. The discoloration is also the same color.

I like how small it is. It’s just a bit longer than a Sailor Progear Mini, it fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. The girth is that of a full-sized Duofold, though. It also has a nice heft to it. I like the section, it’s short but comfortable, and it flares a bit at the end.

The pen uses a button filler. It’s my first time to use one so I had to search on Youtube how to actually use it. It wasn’t complicated at all. I also liked that it was easy to fill and clean. The nib was a bit stiff and writes somewhere between fine and medium.

The nib has the  double line along the tine that I like, although the point is a bit shorter and wider than full-sized vacs.

The clip still uses that little ball at the end instead of the iconic Parker quiver of the later models.

It’s impressive that this pen is about 90 years old and is still usable. I’m grateful that we have people like JP (who helped my husband source this pen) who repair these marvelous vintage pens so that we can continue to enjoy them until now. I’m really happy with it. It’s awfully cute!

I have a small collection of pocket pens that I’m currently trying to grow. I have Kaweco Liliput, KawecoSport, Sailor Progear Mini, and Parker Vacumatic Debutantes. I didn’t even know that there were Duofolds this small! When I did my little research earlier to find out more about this pen, I found out that there are even smaller ones than the Duofold Junior called Vest Pockets. Oh my goodness, they’re adorable. I’m going to put that in my wishlist.

Overall, I’m really happy with my anniversary pen. I will enjoy using this daily. 🙂

Women Leaders

Today’s journal entry is about women leaders and the quality of leadership that they brought to their countries during the time of pandemic. I think one thing that this pandemic did was to shine a very bright spotlight on how poorly certain leaders are doing during these times. Leaders cannot bully, bribe, or brag their way around a pandemic. One also cannot fake empathy for the people. At least  not for long. It’s interesting how a handful of women leaders brought a markedly different approach to the pandemic. They harnessed data, encouraged research, reacted quickly, and brought an undeniable warmth and steadiness whenever they addressed the people. Meanwhile in the Philippines, our president can hardly get through a single press briefing without using foul language, which his supporters passes off as sincerity, lol. Anyway, I thought it would be great to make a journal entry about these remarkable women and their response to the pandemic because it will definitely be part of history.