Sira-sira store: Chippy factor

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Friday, December 2, 2011

IT IS not difficult to say yes to an invitation to dine out, especially when the prospect of eating well comes with the assurance that the treat is on the other guy.

Food always tastes doubly delicious when it comes for free.

I call it the Chippy Factor (a brand of flavored corn chips). When you buy a bag of Chippy yourself, somehow the chips don’t taste as nice as when someone else offers to share his bag of snack.


Sharing brings out the umami spirit in food far better than all the meat cubes and powders, herbs and spices available in the kitchen cupboard.

Exactly what happened this week. My cousin Jojo flew in from New York (NY) to enjoy his annual leave. Lucky guy, he gets to take a break on company time, on company expense, and spend the money he saves on loved ones back home.

He’s a sweet, generous guy. One year he bribed his parents, who live in New Jersey, to take a pause to tour around California. The year before Jojo switched jobs in NY, he spent for his parents’ trip around The Big Apple. “Go have some life,” he ordered his workaholic parents who work in the laundry business.

Cousin Vickie says, “This is what I came for in the US: To wash clothes,” but hey, she and her hubby Rudie have their own house (nicer than one you can find in a real estate property), a good car, and money in the bank with a little left over to send back in Cebu for gifts and pocket money for some relatives.

God rewarded Jojo for his kindness. The next year, the NY company he was eyeing for six months called him. He was hired, with paid vacations in his contract. It sure makes you want to jump over to the other side of the green grass fence, but the shepherds are looking the other way. Man, my luck.

Jojo wasted no time in calling his cousins in Cebu, corralling Gweny, Pat, Ludie and me to accompany him to explore Cebu City Marriott Hotel’s world-class cuisine.

We supped with gusto, especially since the wine pairings were exact. It is said that the right wine brings out the best in any food. We praised the umami flavor, partly due to the Chippy Factor, too.

You know a great chef when he masters the art of matching wine with food so that like lovers, each element—the alcohol and the victual—enhances the flavor and fragrance of the other. I think Marriott’s chef is great.

I read up a little on what makes sweet white wine, the alcohol Jojo ordered at the end of the meal.

According to wikipedia, the white mold you see on grapes, which is referred to as noble rot or pourriture noble in French, gives sweet white wine its distinctive flavor.

In the production of some sweet white wines, the grapes are intentionally harvested after the onset of the mold, which concentrates the sugars inside the grapes.

It is the sweetness that makes the wine palatable, and made more intense with the umami of sharing, the Chippy Factor.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 03, 2011.


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