Sunday, September 06, 2015

47. Sunday Meal

My wife, Celeste, and I would be on our way to the market before the sun is up. Crabs, shrimps, mussels and some other new seafood -- who knows what we would find? -- are on the "to buy" list. The other day they had angel wing clams, which made me remember that Chef Chris Locher, then from the fabled C' Italian Dining of Angeles, once cooked this for us, and we could not have enough of it, because of the heavenly way he cooked it. Sometimes it's the sea mantis -- cooked with salt and pepper, deep fried until crispy -- and other days it would be just lobsters or curachas -- not enough meat as my son, Anselmo, puts it. The boys, Ben, Anselmo, and Agustin, welcome these culinary adventures, but the girl, Regina, would only have pork. The kitchen would be busy as soon as we arrive with our finds. Turmeric is our "go to" seasoning, because it adds that ginger kick and that marvelous yellow hue to any dish that it touches. And white wine brings the sweet sour sophistication to the seafood chemistry. All of these would be cooked, recipes in hand, with rice and grilled pork on the side. The dishes are then placed in hand made colorful clay plates, which Celeste took pains and years to find. Rosemary and basil leaves then garnish the meals fresh from the garden pots. At about noon, the members of the family take their designated spots with their sauces, salt and pepper in vinegar, and soy sauce, on their places. Nobody starts unless everyone is on the table and has prayed. This is our Sunday lunch meal. This is how I hope my kids would remember their Sundays growing up in the early 21st Century.  It took years for Celeste and myself to develop this ritual of a meal, and I reckon it's still a work in progress. I'm still working on the live string quartet to boot. Seriously, the complicated detail and the time and attention we put on this meal measure up only to the importance that we put on the occasion. It's the only time in the entire week that we are gathered together as a family to talk. The rest of the week is the time we get lost in the mess of our daily individual lives, the kids with schoolwork, computer games and anime, and the adults with their jobs, duties, and their budgets. But the Sunday lunch meal is when we all put everything aside. This is where Regina talks about her mangas and the anime, Attack of Titans, where I learn about the latest football news, or the new Ipad game, or that UP is not such a hard school according to my college level son, Ben. The dog takes some attention too as it barks for some bones. We all laugh and cheer together at its antics.  This is also where we talked about our successes and tragedies and challenges. It's not always fun. But always, it's us talking. The rest of humanity have their meal rituals too, like Christ and his disciples and the Last Supper. State dinners for the heads of state, "kauntians" for the poor, boodle fights for the men in uniform, no matter how modest or elaborate, the Sunday meal is the most impressive meal of the week. But I have a suspicion it's not about the food. It is about the satisfaction, not only of the need for nourishment  of the body, but also of the spirit. For meals are not only about being  hungry, but also about being together with the people we love and respect who  also share our hunger no matter what our faiths. And that is as much human as we can get. 

No comments: