Sira-sira store: Wrapped up-A A +A
By Ober Khok
Saturday, February 2, 2013
I CAN only imagine how some of our foods came to be. The genesis of Pinoy culinary delights has to be my next book, although come to think of it, I haven’t written a single book yet. Nor have I been featured in a book or even a magazine. Never mind. This will serve as a launching.
Thinking of genesis, what could be more appropriate than the festive lechon. There’s a story about a barn burning down with all its livestock. When the farmer checked the damage, he found the cows, the goats and the chickens had truned to charcoal. The ducks were no Peking delights and the lambs were horrible sights.
“But my pigs,” the farmer cried. “Surely my pigs are fine.”
Farther down the barn where the pigs were penned, the farmer discovered a pile of ashes but one pig, which had a rich golden brown sheen to it. And when the farmer dared taste the crispy-looking skin, his face lighted up brighter than a Christmas tree.
It was good, everybody in his house declared, but it was too expensive a meat to eat all at once—aside from the fact that the barn burned down.
“In memory of my bacon-producers,” the farmer said, “let’s have roasted pig whenever we celebrate something important.” Thereafter, whenever someone had a birthday or there was a town feast, farmers would burn down facsimiles of the first barn. Inside they would tie a fattened pig before burning down the tiny barn.
According to the legend, which I made up, this is also the genesis of the pigsty, a perfect place that separates the feast animal from the rest of the livestock.
This is one tale made to amuse but not as much as the story about how wrapped food got invented. By this I’m referring to finger foods such as lumpia, cabbage rolls and the like. Here’s another legend.
Once upon a time, there was a housewife who was a slave to the kitchen. She would cook at the crack of dawn and wash the dishes with the setting of the sun. She was a blur of activity. Then one day, she became so tired of washing plates that she decided to buy pre-cut banana leaves to use as plates. However, in the end, she discovered that it was an additional burden to the family budget.
So one day, as she was stir-frying sliced vegetable, she spotted a pack of soft tortillas in the cupboard and the first burrito was born.
Her family loved it so much that from then on she would create meat or vegetable dishes that she would wrap in tacos, tortillas, thin pancakes and lumpia wrappers.
In honor of this heroic woman, let me share with you a simple recipe for filled tortilla: slice grilled chicken breast, slice avocado, crispy bacon and slice tomatoes. Grill the tortilla, then add the fillings and roll to close.
You can also make cabbage rolls, a kind of wrapped food. The version here does not use meat: Thinly slice green beans (locally called Baguio beans) and carrots. Mince onions and garlic. Wash a cup of tawgi. Fry three pieces tokwa and dice. Now sauté the vegetables and the tokwa. Drain. Blanch one whole cabbage. Remove each leaf from the core one by one. Fill with the tokwa mixture and serve with sauce.
For the sauce, sauté additional onion and garlic to which you add undiluted condensed tomato soup, one can tomato sauce and lemon juice (according to taste. Season with salt and pepper. Boil until thickened. That wraps up our “wrapped up” story.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 03, 2013.