Self is re-reading Tikim, a collection of Dear Departed Doreen Fernandez’s food essays (published by Anvil Press of the Philippines). Here’s a section from the Introduction Doreen wrote, June 1994. Her husband, Wili Fernandez, was the one she called “the intuitive gourmet.” But it was Doreen who made Filipino food her vehicle for poking into all sorts of little-known areas of Filipino provincial life. She was adventurous to the core:
“. . . he indeed ate, and pronounced judgement. I ate too, and wrote — and learned. Soon I was no longer interested in just describing the food; I wanted to know its history, its setting, its meaning. That was the beginning.
The learning process still goes on. My teachers are all those who give me information about food: market vendors, street sellers, cooks, chefs, waiters, restaurant and carinderia owners, farmers, tricycle drivers, gardeners, fishermen, aficionados, nutritionists, readers of my column, friends, food critics and historians, fellow-researchers, authors of books (and cookbooks), writers of columns, food anthropologists — everyone who eats and cares.
She called self by her Filipino nickname, Batchoy, to the end. (Batchoy’s the name of a famous soup. Also, a man’s name. Also, a short form of “Fatso” — BWAH. HA. HAAA!)
Self still remembers the time Doreen took her and fellow Atenista Lissa M to a new restaurant that hadn’t yet been reviewed. It was somewhere in Makati. Probably’s disappeared by now.
After the main course was over, Doreen ordered some tea. She asked the waiter what kind of tea they had.
“Tea? Ma’am?” the waiter asked, looking for all the world as if Doreen had asked him to produce a golden egg.
“Yes,” Doreen said. “What kind of tea do you have?”
After a long, long pause, during which you could see all the gears clicking in the man’s brain, he finally managed to say, “Hot, ma’am.”
Ta-ra, ta-ra, ta-ra, ta-ra!
Another Doreen Fernandez quote appears in the blog, Burnt Lumpia.
Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.