Celia Kusinera hosts this month’s Lasang Pinoy with the theme Cooking Up a Storm.

A timely theme for sure so I hope you don’t mind if I do a bit of public service here:

As some of you know, we are a family of homeschoolers. We have a homeschooling friend who lost their home due to the hurricane. They have 3 little girls who miss their books terribly. They are currently in New York with their grandma, waiting to have their home rebuilt. A fellow homeschooling mom has registered them for gift books at amazon. If you are so inclined, click on the link here. You can be sure Jennifer’s family will be VERY grateful, especially the girls, who reportedly have exclaimed “Our books have come home!” after receiving the first books.

Or, of course, you can donate through your local charities.

Bagyo is a given if you live in a tropical country, and unless you experience a major catastrophe, it’s no biggie, just something that happens several times a year. So no exciting stories here, just a bunch of bits and pieces:

  • Typhoon season, when I was a kid, meant only one thing: there will be days when you don’t have to go to school! So we get all excited when a storm is designated “Signal Number Three”. We’d shower and play in the streets. The only time we weren’t allowed to do this was when the rainfall was particularly heavy or when there was a lot of lightning. These days as long as the temps aren’t too low, I let my kids play in the rain every now and then. It is an experience not to be missed regardless of which part of the world you’re in.
  • In college, we were required to wear a dress in Speech class when it was our turn to deliver our speech. So I did (a rarity since I hated wearing dresses back then), and promptly got soaked in the rain after class. I was walking with a friend to wait for the bus when the heavy wind and rain hit us and flipped my umbrella backwards! The ride home was 1 1/2 hours, so you can just imagine how it felt sitting in that warm bus (musky smell all over, ewwww!), my hair still dripping a bit. I used to hate (actually, still do) those plastic things that jeepneys have — you know, those thingies that you roll down to shield yourselves from the rain? Ugh! Wet plastic and people who forgot to use deodorant just make for an unbearable ride.
  • My favorite thing about storms may be staying in bed and sleeping, but I also love the Filipino music that rainstorms have inspired. Here’s a sampling of some “oldies but goodies”: (You can click on the APO and Navarro titles to hear the songs. — if you’re a crybaby like me, be forewarned! The APO Songs almost brought me to tears.)

    Pumapatak na naman ang ulan sa bubong ng bahay
    Di maiwasang gumawa ng di inaasahang bagay
    Laklak ng laklak ng beer nang magdamagan
    May kahirapan at di maiwasan

    Pumapatak ang Ulan, Apo Hiking Society

    Masdan mo ang ulan
    Unti-unting pumapatak
    Sa mga halama’t mga bulaklak
    Masdan mo ang dilim
    Unti-unting bumabalot
    Sa buong paligid tuwing umuulan

    – Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka, Basil Valdez

    N’ong Martes ng umaga sa may Cubao
    May isang babaeng nagpapayong
    Ang naisip ko o heto na ang hinihintay mo
    Narinig mo yatang sabi ko
    At biglang sabi mo, “Mukhang uulan
    May lugar pa rito, sige, sukob na”

    Suwerte-Suwerte Lang, Joel Navarro – I remember a rumor going around in UP in those days that the song was composed by Joel Navarro for our Psych teacher, Amy Navarro — and that it was “their story”…. but I never found out if there was any truth to that.

Okay, time to get back to food! Canned goods are indispensable for Filipinos because they’re what we end up eating when the storms come and you can’t leave the house to shop. (Does this perhaps explain our love for processed food?)

sardinas at misua
Ginisang Sardinas at Misua

This is a simple Filipino preparation, the main ingredients being canned sardines in tomato sauce and misua, which can be found in Asian stores as “Chinese vermicelli” in the Filipino food section (it’s manufactured in the Philippines). Cappellini or angel hair pasta is a good substitute, or if you have a pasta machine, just mix some flour and water together until kneadable, then run through the pasta machine and cut into the thinnest possible noodles.

Saute some garlic, onions and tomatoes in a little oil. Add the sardines. Season to taste with salt and pepper and or a little fish sauce. Add misua and cook (if you want it “saucy”, add a bit of water).

If you come across patola (Sc. name Luffa acutangula, aka Chinese okra, more info on this particular plant’s name here), it’s a great addition to the dish. Peel and slice thinly and add it to the dish at the same time as the misua. My mom cooked this last time we were there. Serve hot. Ooh, and if you like spicy food, use “hot” sardines, or several dashes of Tabasco.

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