AFTER a long hiatus, I’m back. Election is over, it’s safe to come out. I’m putting Spider’s Web to eternal rest because it’s no longer appropriate. I have chosen a semi-retired life and I’m no longer in the middle of everything, catching everything.

I’m just here, between my home and wherever my meetings would bring me, listening to taxi drivers and their program choices and music on my way there and back.

But yesterday, it was all about a brief stroll out of the subdivision.

I live a walking distance from a major mall, which hosts a big call center. Right outside the mall gates are ambulant food stalls. Street food galore including the deep fried proben from a chicken’s proventriculus. Until now I still wonder who first thought of cooking and naming that.

Having been the official chicken killer at home during grade and high school, I didn’t even know that tiny pocket just before the balun-balunan (gizzard or batikolon in Bisaya) had a name.

The proventriculus, for those who have not had the intimate knowledge of taking chicken innards apart as I had early in life, is that tiny muscled piece before the major muscled batikolon. It serves as a storage and conditioner, information from the internet says. I know it as the one that has tiny gritty things in it after the big pocket that still have whole corn kernels and rice grains, which you can touch while the chicken’s still alive (it’s on that part just below the neck, the one that protrudes when full). You slice the proventriculus in half along with the batikolon to clean it. But I never thought of separating it from the batikolon. It’s just there.

And then in my 50s, it got a name... proben. That was the only time I knew it existed as a separate entity and had a distinct biological and chemical functions as it secretes hydrochloric acid and pepsinogen. It’s called proventriculus because it comes before (pro) the ventriculus, which is the gizzard.

As only God can make a tree, only God could think of putting in a proventriculus and even the ventriculus and its bulky chewy muscles to mash the grains that fowls eat.

As I chew on the deep-fried proben and castigating myself for how unhealthy it is, I am brought to ponder on God and the unfathomable depths of divine wisdom.

As I’m wont to do, reading about proventriculus on my mobile phone led me to explore what other divine wisdom is stamped in the food I was eating... like the bamboo stick that skewers the proben and how that thin stick of about a foot in length is actually from this tall bamboo, taller than your two-storey townhouse, and yet is a grass.

Maybe that’s where the Catholic Church lost its cue in guiding its flock to make conscience-guided choices as it placed much emphasis on the pulpit and not the bamboo... and the proben... and the unknown vendor who first thought of cooking and naming the proben... and just getting into the groove of the real people, chewing on unhealthy food on the streets, eking out a living, and being blessed without them knowing. saestremera@gmail.com