22 May 2009

Shnks fr th Mmrs

this post will revolve around my love of the beef shank. i've long known that while this meat is tough like rubber, if braised long enough, this portion has the ability to make any great soup better. add this to the low price of this rarely found item, and one can appreciate the joy of cooking -- both in savings and in camraderie and family.

this past wednesday, i made a promise to my roommates that i would cook sinigang for them before i moved out. for those of you that don't know what it is, think gumbo done in a filipino style. at least that's what i think of it. filipino soul food.

the rundown of its creation follows (mind you, i've cooked this differently everytime i've made it):
  • prep meat (this includes removing the silverskin and most of the connective tissue of the shank meat)
  • boil this meat like your life depended on it
  • remove the "scum" that forms as the meat boils
  • add the onions for flavoring
  • as meat and bones approaches fork-tenderness, add tamarind soup base (sinigang flavoring)
  • add remaining vegetables, from hardest (rooty) texture to softest (leafy).

eat till you passout.


since i've moved out on my own, i've had very few encounters with filipino food. throughout my many coversations with xerxes, this idea of food as life and food being a key part of our fond memories is a common topic. i guess this is why i titled this post "Shanks for the Memories" - the idea that food can spark fond memories of happier times.

not that i am sad or anything - it's probably just a case of indigestion.

14 May 2009

SOPA so good...

so i was under the impression that sopa meant soup in spanish, and while i'm not presently eating anything, this recipe for a mexican noodle casserole is oddly fitting for the wrong reasons. the dish is called sopa seca (which means, in my logical and somewhat literal mind, seca soup) but clearly the recipe lacks any bit of broth or stock. the only thing linking this to my blog is it's gratuitous use of noodle and the odd resemblance to the spasagna i wrote about yesterday.

this search for a spanish pasta stems from the amusement i encounter every morning on the way to work...

[cue Handel's Water Music e.g. the theme song from the Frugal Gourmet]

imagine one of those curvy roads you are used to seeing in the many luxury sedan commercials, you know, like the lexus driving to classical music on the flawless asphalt road located in some faraway redwood forest? now imagine that same road with potholes and envision that lexus as a chromed-out, 94 honda accord, weaving amongst the roadkill. well, at two random clearings by the road, it has become commonplace to see trash dumped - a plethora of mattresses, 60s era televisions, diapers and the like. i had witnessed the (presumably) owner cleaning this up on many occasions. about two weeks ago, i noticed the trash beginning to surface again, this time with a sign saying "why? this is nasty." (oddly, heard in a voice similar to cleveland brown from family guy) it seems like the owner/farmer owns both spots, because the sign is in the same handwriting in both spots.

fast forward to this week, and the whole punchline to this (hopefully) funny story. a new sign has started to accompany the "why so nasty" sign - in a language i can't decipher. each of the two signs says "PORGO BENDESHO SUSO" immediately, upon getting to work, with fear of letting this enigmatic phrase leak from my ear, i google this phrase and every conceivable combination to no avail.

the following is a transcription between one of my coworkers and myself at the coffee station:

me: you know those signs i've been telling you about? well now they say "porgo bendesho suso" what can this possibly mean?

her: ???

me: it sounds like an amalgamation [i keep saying this word, i need a thesaurus] of spanish and portugese. maybe the guy was trying to write spanish but is illiterate.

her: maybe the owner saw them and they were pirates.

me: yeah, illiterate spanish/portugese speaking pirates, dumping stuff and saying "arrrrrrgh!"

her: yeah, but if they're spanish, it'd be "RRRRRRRRRRRRRR!" (rolls Rs)

so if anyone knows what "porgo bendesho suso" means, or if you try the recipe for SOPA SECA, please leave a comment. until then, i'll keep my eye out for illiterate spanish/porgugese speaking pirates (and for that previously mentioned co-worker, the pirate that looks like johnny depp, but sounds like a tonka truck).

13 May 2009

PUTTANESCApe plan into action, I need to get the hell out of here...

Noodle-based meal: Spasagna (think spaghetti casserole served like lasagna)

While not quite puttanesca, spasagna is similar in that it was a quick, simple, albeit sloppy meal to draw me in to a local "casual dining" restaurant. Wikipedia says it best:

"According to chef Jeff Smith of the Frugal Gourmet, its name came from the fact that it was a quick, cheap meal that prostitutes could prepare between customers."

Yes, that amalgamation of spaghetti and lasagna is akin to the tomato, capers and olive concoction designed to entice men into partaking the troves of sloppy seconds available at the local brothel.

I had originally intended for this post to be about my recent attitude towards work. I mean, seriously, I get in, I get out, make a quick and dirty job of it, then get the hell out of there. But then that would force me to compare the office to a brothel, and trust me, it's not that fun (although the amount of HR-inappropriate conversations would prove otherwise; pronounced "fuzzy nuts"). The more I think about it, my current musing may not be as great for this post either. How about this one-liner?

The Mavericks in this 2nd round Western Conference Playoffs can best be described as sloppy and eager to get out of it.

Come to think of it, my enjoyment of this year's 40 games in 40 nights has been hampered by the all around farce this series has been for me. The Mavs (at times) played like uninspired prostitutes; the refs were no less than sloppy; the fouls called (both flagrant and technical) were cheap; and poor ol' me was and is repeatedly enticed into staying up late watching every PDT-oriented basketball game. Begrudgingly, I say that Denver seems to be the only pristine cog in this friggin' machine: they are nearly flawless with their execution, and as a Mavs fan, it hurts to see a team on top of their game. Denver deserves the accolades for this round, no matter how much I want to bitch and moan about the no-call in game 3.

But after all that I've written, I will still maintain that olives and capers are a delicious combination - with and without the prostitutes.

11 May 2009

mami monday?

i know, i know -- the title for this post is purposefully entendre'ed. i originally intended for this inaugural post to be a recognition for my mother's day musings, but in keeping with the theme of this blog, i need to somehow pack in the noodle notions (while simultaneously sickening myself with the friggin' puns).

so first, happy belated mothers' day.

second, i had not intended this to be about attractive women, commonly used in spanish culture.

with the nearing of the inevitable inferno that is texas summer, it's counterintuitive to be thinking about mami, but the lunchtime rush is near and my stomach is upset from the 3 cups of coffee. for you uninitiated folk, mami is a filipino chicken soup named for the amalgam of Tagalog words for chicken ("manok") and egg noodles ("miki"). this could be freshly made (a la a street vendor), or come from a styrofoam bowl like certain variety of ramen. i only wish there were some nice noodle shops akin to the ones i've visted in california. for now, i'll have to deal with a sandwich of some type.

i don't know how often i will update this blog, but as of late, 140 characters has not been sufficient for some of my random thoughts. i hope this blog serves as a springboard of inspiration during times of mental slugishness like today. truly, mondays always suck for me. and trying to get creative seems like an uphill battle. that's why food is life, and if life is comparable to ramen, this monday sure as hell could use a flavor packet.

taste testing

microphone check.