Category: Journal Art

Mapishi: Authentic Swahili Cuisine

My husband and I finally tried this new place at BF Homes last Sunday. I’ve seen their social media posts and was really intrigued if they made good lamb biryani. So we went there on a beautiful Sunday morning. At 11am there were already other diners in the place but we were able to sit in a quiet spot. The place was small but had a lot of tables, and an outdoor dining area at the back. Some of the tables were placed on a platform so people can sit down cross-legged to eat. We ordered the Salmon Wali Samaki, Lamb Biryani, and the Beef Pilau. After a few minutes our order was served on our table. I was quite happy because the service was quick despite the fact that they seemed to be understaffed that day and there was a big group that came in shortly after we did. I was also pleasantly surprised that the servings were really generous.

The smells that wafted from their kitchen were delicious. It really made us excited to dig in. The salmon was really delicious, I loved the masala sauce it was served with and the fluffy basmati rice. However it was completely upstaged by the lamb biryani and beef pilau. The lamb was melt in your mouth tender and it did not have that gamey taste that lamb dishes sometimes have. The rice was so fragrant, you can really smell the spices that were cooked with it. The beef pilau was puzzling at first because it was like a plate of fragrant rice, but the generous chunks of beef were under that pile and like the lamb, the beef was so, so tender. The rice was cooked in the broth of the beef so you can imagine the flavor bomb that ever spoonful of rice has.

It was a very satisfying meal, and surprisingly affordable too, considering the generous portions and the quality of the food. My husband and I enjoyed it very much. Mapishi is located along Aguirre Avenue inside BF Homes, Paranaque.

Here’s a video of the process below:

What the Actual Eff?!

Yesterday’s food journal entry is about the issues of food security and rising prices of food in the country, triggered by the fact that while buying groceries yesterday, I was shocked to hold a little ball of supposedly local cabbage which costs P88. I can afford it, it’s not a problem, but the thing is that cabbages this small usually cost between P2o – P40. Now it’s P88 for a teeny tiny ball that fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. Goodness gracious. I tell myself “veggies are cheaper in wet markets”, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that prices are rising and poor Filipinos are able to afford much less food now than before. Aljude and I bought a pack of 10 small cans of sardines at S&R for a little over P200, and It reminded me that Filipinos are struggling more to eat healthier meals. When faced with a choice of healthy vegetables or fish and cheaper cans of sardines, guess which one makes more sense. Meanwhile, our farmers are struggling to sell the produce that they grow. Nabubulukan sila ng mga gulay. I reminded myself to buy from Session Grocers instead next time. I know it’s much easier to just go out and buy sa supermarkets, but it’s better to support initiatives that help our farmers. It just takes more planning to make it work for our household.

Cold Press Peach

When I was young, I always made coffee for my father. It was easy enough; just boil water, add a teaspoon of Nescafe instant coffee, add Coffeemate and white sugar. I always found the smell to be so wonderful and sometimes I would sneak a sip before delivering the cup to my father. My mom didn’t want me to drink coffee because it was addictive, so I dutifully avoided it until several years after I started working in call centers. Mainly I drank the instant kind that flowed freely in company pantries and the occasional frappe from Starbucks. That shaped my idea of what coffee should taste like. Then in 2012, one of my friends took me to a little cafe where I tasted my first french press coffee. Shortly after, she took me and my husband to this quaint little cafe inside BF Homes which serves specialty coffee. I remember being at a loss because the handwritten menu did not include any frappes haha. The owner gamely talked to us about specialty coffee and I was pretty overwhelmed by how new everything is to me. She brought out a small bag of beans (Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Beloya) from her personal stash and asked the barista to prepare it for us. He commenced to grind the beans by hands and I watched as he prepared the first pourover I ever tried in my life. He handed me the glass of coffee that was more red than black, and I was so shocked when I tasted it. Grapes! It tasted like wine. Wine coffee. That coffee could taste different from just bitter and not leave a tobacco-like aftertaste to my mouth was unbelievable for me.

I still consider myself a specialty coffee newbie and I’ve discovered many beans and brewing techniques that made me go wow, coffee can taste like this?! It’s been a pleasant adventure so far! The illustration in this journal entry is of the cold press peach that I ordered last night from Alch3mist Coffee inside BF Homes. This really tasted like peach iced tea and again I exclaimed wow, coffee can taste like this?! Apparently it can, and it’s pretty awesome.

Comfort Food

Yesterday’s food journal entry was about finding a new comfort food spot. My husband and I found this spot inside BF Homes the day we were coming home from getting our second COVID booster shot. Since my husband hates needles, eating is always a good way to comfort him after getting shots. These days, I’m relieved that things have gone back to almost normal. The economy will be in recovery mode for the years to come, yes, but people have started to go out again. If not for the masks that everyone still wears dutifully (and without drama, I must say), things seem pretty much back to normal now. I am thankful for this. I am thankful that somehow we got to the tail end of this pandemic and so far we’re doing okay. I’ve lost friends, and friends have lost friends and family members. There has been so much loss these past two years that just being able to eat outside without being afraid is incredibly precious.

Running on Fumes

Today’s food journal entry is about nuts. Sort of.

Three weeks ago, on the week that our beloved cat passed away, I had the worst attack of vertigo in my entire life. I woke up in the middle of the night to the whole world spinning really fast. I felt like it came out of nowhere, as if somebody just flipped the switch in my brain and the world was suddenly a runaway carousel, spinning uncontrollably. The spinning would subside, then randomly just start back up, it was excruciating. I’ve always had vertigo attacks since I was young, but they were usually triggered by something and the spinning was not this intense. I’ve never experience anything this bad before. I tried my best to rest and sleep it off, but it wouldn’t go away. I felt weak and was unable to stand or sit properly on my own. After a week of this, I finally asked to be taken to the ER where I was given medication to control the symptoms. My blood work came back normal, except for my rbc which was super low. My anemia probably triggered my Meniere’s disease, the doctor said.

So here we are, at the end of a two-week regimen of vertigo medication. Hopefully my symptoms won’t start back up later when I stop taking my medication. I’m also taking iron supplements and made a lot of changes to my diet so that I’m eating more vegetables and low-sodium food. I swapped out my salty snacks for raw nuts too, hence the journal entry.

I failed to listen to my body. I was growing more anxious every day because of seeing our cat’s health deteriorate, and I was needlessly working long hours and sleeping less and less to keep my restless mind occupied. I honestly felt normal, but I guess things were really going awry without me acknowledging them. I was forced to rest, of course, and took a 3-day leave from work. I’m making lifestyle changes but I’m aware these don’t take effect right away. I’m starting to build back my energy. Little by little, I am feeling more like myself everyday. I’m not 100% back to normal yet, but I’m making good progress.

Recovery Journal (Work in Progress)

I started seeing a therapist recently. It’s my first time to see one, not because I have negative attitudes about it, but I just never felt like I needed it. However, some time before the pandemic hit, I started to feel odd. I started having generalized anxiety and depression, I felt like I was falling apart at the seams, and there was no apparent reason for it. I couldn’t understand why, but I knew that I needed help. It took me another two and a half years of building up my courage to get in touch with a therapist. I consider myself open to the idea of therapy, and yet it took me that long to actually reach out to someone who could help. I can appreciate better now how a lot of people take a lifetime before taking that first step, and how some never do at all. During the course of our sessions, the therapist was asking me probing questions and some of my life traumas inevitably came to light.

I’ve always considered myself a strong and well-grounded person, I am generally open about the abuse I’ve experienced when I was young, but I never really talked about it in detail. Just hearing myself recount the details, and in the context of talking about them with somebody who is trying to understand how she can help me, it helped me realize that I’ve “moved on” from many of these traumatic events by merely leaving them in the past. I survived and that’s all that mattered. I never considered how these events shaped me and how I viewed myself and the world. I never considered how even my perception of how others look at me are still affected by past trauma.

One of the exercises my therapist asked me to do was to create “trauma narratives”, which is essentially processing the traumatic events in a medium that I am most comfortable with. I submitted a Word document. Then I thought that it felt insufficient, so I started a recovery journal about 2 weeks ago. It was a lot to go through, and there were new details that I remembered which I never recalled before. It was very enlightening, to say the least, and it is a lot of work. Work that I’ve put off for decades and are starting to take a toll on me. I gained a lot of insights just by working on a few pages in my recovery journal.

I know it’s going to be a long journey, but even at this early stage, I am starting to feel better and I think have begun to have a healthier understanding of myself. Maybe I can say that I’m starting to see myself a bit more clearly now. I decided to share this in order to encourage others who might be feeling like they need help but they don’t know if they should reach out to a professional or not. I’ve personally encountered evidence of the stigma seeking therapy still has in our culture, many from well-meaning people in my life. A lot of them have convoluted thoughts shaped by religion which only succeeds in nurturing maladaptive behavior to trauma instead of embracing the path that leads to freedom from it.

Childhood Reads: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

Got a few ink samples of the new collaboration between Robert Oster Signature Inks and Endless Pens – Cozy Comforts Inks! I made a beeline for the Old Book Smell sample because the color reminded me of one of my favorite books when I was a child: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. The color of the book was exactly this. Dark red with a bit of orange in it. It was my first hard bound book and, to my young eyes, it was incredibly beautiful. My favorite part of the story was the one where Tom basically conned the other neighborhood kids onto whitewashing the fence for him and even paying him little trinkets and bites out of their apples for the dubious favor. I thought it was a naughty thing to do, but still funny. In this post-truth reality, reading this scene would have taken on new meaning for me.

Impunity

Today’s journal entry is about the culture of impunity in our country. Last Friday, I woke up to some distressing news from a fellow member of our pen group. His sister, a healthcare worker who had established health centers in Mindanao among other work for the poor in the area, was arrested. The circumstances of her arrest is something that sounds so familiar because it has happened to many people before. People who serve poor communities, labor leaders, etc etc etc all have very similar stories–violent arrests, dubious search warrants, being denied access by family and counsel, just a lot of blatant human rights violations. I cannot imagine having a sibling forcibly taken under such suspicious circumstances and to not know where she’s taken. I have never in my life lost contact with my brothers. I have never been separated from them in this way. I can only imagine the anguish the family is going through right now.

It saddens me that we again find ourselves in this situation, when there’s so much in our history that should have warned us of the red flags and should have pointed us to a better path. It’s time for us to realize that the violation of one person’s human rights puts all of our rights in danger. It’s time to ask important questions and to care about holding our government accountable. It’s time to reject leaders who do nothing but weaken our democracy and insist it’s “for our own good”. Someday the violence will visit us in our own homes, and by then it will be too late to care.

First Date of the Year – Teppanya Evia

Yesterday’s journal entry was about our first date in 2022. My husband and I usually open the year by going on our first date, which is usually just a quiet meal and some time to read and write in a cafe before heading home. After a good Christmas celebration with our family, we were really looking forward to a quiet first date. It was our first time at Teppanya and it truly did not disappoint. The service and food were excellent. It was our first time to watch a chef perform over a teppanyaki grill and it was a lot of fun.

By the time we went home in the afternoon, though, it was pretty clear that we are in the early stages of a COVID19 surge. I’ve been monitoring and recording the new cases, deaths and positivity rates in my journal and the increase in new cases is so quick. It’s nothing like the Delta-driven surge of last year. Time to buckle up and go  back to sheltering in place at our respective homes. I hope this surge will be over soon, and that fewer people will need hospitalization.

Bamba Bistro

Today’s food journal entry is about a meal at Bamba Bistro, one of our favorite, cozy little hole in the wall at BF Homes. This pandemic has  been really rough on businesses, and I’m really happy that this favorite spot of ours is still open. My husband and I had lunch with friends last Sunday, it really looked like more people are beginning to venture out and meet up with family and friends. This is the first time we ate out with people who aren’t from our own household. Bamba has an al fresco dining area, and we enjoyed the cool weather under the trees. I missed eating out with friends, and really missed Bamba’s food. They always  have an adventurous take on food and I love how creative they are with their flavors.

I had their salisbury steak dish named “Not your momma’s salisbury”. It’s cheese-stuffed beef patties with porcini mushroom sauce over rice, served in a cast iron skillet. It’s a beautiful, creamy dish that’s part of their holiday menu. I like that the patties are done just right, with a beautiful sear on the outside and still moist and juicy inside.  The porcini sauce is so, so gloriously delicious. None of that overpowering faux-truffle flavor that stays in the mouth long after you’ve had your meal. The pancit negra is also part of their holiday menu and it’s a really good example of how they’re very creative and adventurous about layering their flavors. I think the pancit may be pancit bato, but I’m not sure about it. It’s thin pancit with squid ink. There’s perfectly cooked shrimps with crispy kangkong and chicken skin for texture and flavor. Don’t skip the vinegar, it brightens the dish up with that pop of acid. Their crispy lapu-lapu is a mainstay. The fish is cooked just right, crispy on the outside, moist and flaky on the inside. The chorizo rice is a nice complement to it.

Being able to share a good meal with good friends after two years of isolation feels incredible. I missed this so much.

The downward trend of covid19 infections, the aggressive and consistent vaccination drive of LGUs, and high vaccination rates of our respective cities played a part in giving us confidence to meet up with friends. Of course, we still mask up and avoid crowded places. Here’s hoping that there won’t be another surge, and that we’re finally seeing the light at the end of this long tunnel.