Khok: Do it with comfort

Sira-sira store

WHAT is your comfort food?

My friend Illustracio told me that any type of rolled food gives him comfort.

“I always feel restored after a few bites of vegetable lumpia or cabbage roll or turon,” he said. “For that matter, I also feel warmth and calmness whenever I have morcon or cordon bleu.”

He shared with me memories of his mother preparing morcon and fresh lumpia for special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas parties and wedding anniversaries. “It always brings me a joyful feeling in my heart whenever I eat any of the foods I mentioned earlier.”

Comfort food is any dish that brings back memories of home or someone you love or a place that provided you with happiness. The nostalgia or sentimental feeling a certain food gives is personal. One man’s comfort food may not be too special to another.

I found a list of comfort food in Wikipedia. The website has a systematic listing by country, including the Philippines. I agree that lumpia, adobo, arroz caldo (also lugaw or pospas), noodle dishes such as batchoy, lomi and pancit, among others on the list, bring a sense of comfort to the imbiber.

My comfort foods include noodle dishes, rice-based soups and dimsum such as siomai and siopao. I also gain relief from tiredness and sadness whenever I have tinuwang isda, lilnarang nga isda and ginisang nukos ug bantiyong.

Ginisang nukos ug bantiyong is sauteed squid with diced winter melon. I have this whenever I miss home or when my appetite is low. The contrast between the chewy squid and semi-soft melon allows me time to remember that life also has it contrasts.

Tinuwa is a fish soup made with sliced ripe tomatoes, green onions and a few pieces of iba (balimbi) to give the soup some character. This is different from sinigang, which is a sour soup made with souring agents such as green mangoes, unripe tamarind juice or balimbi.

Linarang nga isda is a Cebuano sour and spicy soup. I look for this soup whenever I feel down. One sip of the blistering soup and I am restored.

The cook starts making the soup by sauteing garlic, green onions and ripe tomatoes. Some cooks add ginger to remove the strong smell from the fish. One carinderia owner tosses a cup of sliced red onions to the soup “to give it a sweet balance,” he said.

Another cook adds pechay Tagalog (bok choy) for added vitamins, he said.

Souring agents include sliced green mangoes or iba. I learned some cooks make a shortcut by just adding vinegar. To finish the soup, green finger chili peppers and siling kulilkot (bird’s eye chili) are added to the boiling pot of heavenly goodness.

This soup is my main comfort food. It has everything I need to bring me back to the world.


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