Doreen G. Fernandez, Food Writer, Queen

From Hometown Foods: Essays on Filipino Food:

Quiet, bucolic Silay used to have a lot of gambling for high stakes going on behind the walls of those gracious houses. Some, I was told (I never saw them) had sophisticated warning, hiding and escape systems built into them in case of an unlikely raid — unlikely because of pakikisama, because important officials were among the gamblers, because it was an important part of the community lifestyle. Tales were told and zarzuelas were written about jewelry, land titles and car registrations flung on the gambling table; of haciendas lost in a night of gaming; of marriages sacrificed at the mahjong, panguingue or monte tables, or at the cockpit.

For these gamblers, I was told, were developed for kalan-unon (kakanin) for which Silay is famous, and the accompanying institution, the manug-libud (accent on ug and ud). The kalan-unon are portable — they can be eaten without getting up from the gambling table, and they used to be made by the best cooks in Silay — maiden aunts, young wives, mothers, girls, many from the best families. The food was taken around by the manug-libud (“libud” means to take from place to place, usually to sell) to homes with or without gambling, to restaurants and schools, in large round baskets covered with cloth and carried on their heads.

Are there any chefs from Silay in the Bay Area? Are there any Filipino restaurants in Redwood City? How about Half Moon Bay? Just wondering.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

 

Books Are Life

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New COVID Reading, post-Expanse:

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2020 in Books

Self had an unbelievable string of great reads, in the spring. Here were the books she read:

  • Someone Who Will Love You In All Your Damaged Glory, by Rafael Bob-Waksberg
  • The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
  • I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
  • The Run of His Life: The People vs O. J. Simpson, by Jeffrey Toobin
  • Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh

After that run, she stumbled on The Expanse, and has so far read four novels in the series (The ninth is supposed to appear either this year or next. Ha!), all of them super-engaging. Highly recommend!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Reads of Julys Past

Self is still reading Cibola Burn. What can she say? It’s been a busy week. Havelock and Naomi are together (She’s his prisoner; they should hook up). But Holden is still Naomi’s titular boyfriend (though he doesn’t think of her much, not for almost 300 pages)

Self does like Havelock. Which is why, if Naomi were to start developing feelings, self would not mind a bit. Besides which, she loves their conversation while she is Havelock’s prisoner.

Did self say caged? Indeed she did! Naomi is in a cage, and she has to do all her business in that cage, including pee-ing.

Perhaps her affection for Havelock developed from the actor who plays him in the series. (He survives a pole sticking out of his chest! He visits a Belter brothel to learn how to speak Belter! He knew Miller!)

Someone on goodreads has written a thesis in the guise of a review on Cibola Burn, and hundreds of people apparently read it and liked it. So Americans do read! Probably as much as, or more than, POTUS!

This post is about all her favorite reads of Julys past. Herewith:

July 2016:  Girl Waits With Gun, by Amy Stewart (Is this ever going to be a movie?)

July 2017:  Barbarian Days, by William Finnegan

July 2018:   Manderley Forever, by Tatiana de Rosnay

July 2019:   Open Heart: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Stories of Life and Death on the Operating Table, by Stephen Westaby

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

KUWENTO (Stories), Self’s First Book

A copy is in Green Library.

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#backreading The New Yorker, 14 October 2019

Found, in a pile of unread New Yorkers, the issue that lauds Jenny Lewis’s Gilgamesh Retold (available now as an audiobook featuring Jenny reading her own work, on the Carcanet website)

 

It’s partly about George Smith, “an engraver of banknotes,” who “spent his lunch hours at the British Museum, studying its holdings.” Eventually, Smith was hired to “help analyze the thousands of clay shards that had been shipped … ” from “Nineveh, an important city in ancient Mesopotamia … the reason so many tablets had been found in one place was that they were the remains of a renowned library, that of Ashurbanipal, a king of the neo-Assyrian Empire in the seventh century B.C.” The script was written in cuneiform, a script “no one could read.”

The article, by Joan Acocella, is very long. But worth noting is that it reviews Jenny Lewis’s new collection, Gilgamesh Retold. Self has heard Jenny read, and her voice — Shohreh Aghdashloo level.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Her Protector’s Pleasure, Chapter Two: Slay, Slay, Slay

Wow, self is really enjoying this bodice ripper! The writing is so completely immersive! Chapter One was set in a male brothel in Regency London, and ended with the brothel Madam’s own special man being appropriated by the widow MC for … well, dear blog readers can guess.

Chapter Two takes us to the Thames River Police, which is nowhere near as interesting as the brothel. There are two protagonists: one is a member of the Thames River Police (as dear blog reader might have guessed), the other is a man in his fifties whose name is so close to that of the male prostitute that self first thought they were one and the same, until she came to the spot where the the author describes the man as being in his fifties. At which point, self said, Oh.

Anyhoo, blah blah blah goes on between the two.

Self is alternating between Her Protector’s Pleasure and Cibola Burn. In Cibola Burn, SPOILER ALERT! Murtry and Holden meet. Holden waves and smiles, Murtry shoots a man right in front of Holden. TROUBLE, this man MURTRY is TROUBLE WITH A CAPITAL ‘T.’ Self adores Burn Gorman, the actor who plays him in the TV series  The Expanse. And of course it goes without saying that she adores Steven Strait.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

More Writing in a Pandemic

Further in self’s novel about the World War II occupation of the city of Bacolod in the central Philippines (72k words so far):

Don Geronimo entered Honorato’s room just as his eldest son was about to get dressed. It was eight o’clock.

“The Japanese are here,” he said.

Honorato said nothing.

There was a group of them, some in uniform, some in civilian clothing. They had told Don Geronimo they were there to put the Daku Balay under the protection of the Imperial Japanese Army. “We are forbidden to leave the premises without permission. Go through the kitchen. Moses is waiting for you by the side gate.”

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The Daku Balay, Burgos Street, Bacolod City: It was used by the Japanese High Command during World War II. Self’s grandfather sent her uncle to the mountains. Her father, only 12 at the time, stayed home.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Writing In a Pandemic: Self’s Other Novel

So far, 299 pages, set on the island of Negros in the central Philippines, in the opening months of World War II. Self has not looked at it in almost two years. She’s been devoting most of her time to her 16th century novel, Camarote de Marinero:

In mid-April, Honorato was sent to the mountains.  He had just turned 18.  Don Geronimo worried because he was tall, because he was good-looking, because he was the eldest and bore the hopes of his parents on his slender shoulders.  Hide, his father told him.  Get as far away from here as you can.

The boy, Honorato, spends the war wandering in the mountains with his Dad’s enkargado, Moses. Moses has a bolo and a 32 Colt. Honorato can’t even shoot. But he learns a lot. (Meanwhile, self, who hasn’t shot a gun in her entire life, has to do internet research on the mechanics of a 32 Colt. So she’s learning just as much as Honorato)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Her Protector’s Pleasure: p. 6, Still in the Male Brothel, Regency England

This book is so exciting! Self hasn’t read a Regency Romp in ages! That’s because lately she’s been reading The Expanse, and watching the series (in, like, 15-minute increments on Amazon Prime, while watering). Steven Strait is FIIIINEEEE! She might check out his tween prep-school/witch movie The Covenant (4% on the Tomato Meter), a movie she never heard of (it might have appeared while she was deep in her Hunger Games phase), not until she started watching The Expanse series.

Back to Her Protector’s Pleasure. Self hasn’t moved very much further, just three pages in. The book started with the MC preparing to enter a male brothel in Regency England (first she’s heard of such) and now, three pages later, the MC is sitting in the parlor. And there’s a very fine description of the setting, such as “sheer ivory panels” and “jewel-toned reclining cushions.”

Very exciting. Hell, yeah. Go to the max, author Grace Callaway!

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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