My time is short here in the Philippines this time, so in order to streamline family time, my sister and I have organized these gatherings and demanded that our relatives attend.
Yesterday we were at Kuya D’s place in Cavite. My sister was grilling chicken thighs and zucchini skewers in the front yard. I was in the kitchen making carnitas, Mexican rice, and a can of refried black beans in the kitchen.
When Auntie B came in and saw us cooking, she immediately asked, “why are you working when you are the guests?!” And I might have said “because I don’t want to eat any shitty take out from Amber’s.” Except I probably didn’t say “shitty” out loud.
There was a point when Ate D was standing in the kitchen next to me, watching me try to make Mexican rice, wondering if I had lost my mind. She asked me, is this how you cook? And I told her, no, when we’re back home in the States, we’ll probably make Filipino food. But for you, we are making Mexican food. Here’s what we made:
- Tacos de pollo, de carnitas, de calabacin, and of course campechana
- Pico de gallo
- Arroz mexicano
- Frijoles negros
Our cousins of course had no faith that we could feed everyone, so they hedged their bets by brining a palabok from somewhere, making a delicious spaghettini al tonno, and grilling some liempo and a couple of tilapias. They were halfway into the palabok when we finally had hot tortillas and I set up a cutting board and made tacos to order. The rice was a minor disaster, turning out cooked but dry somehow. The can of refried black beans was gross, they were over salted and puréed. The tacos were pretty good.
Anyway my neices were eager to try the tacos we were making, eating standing up at the counter just like some buzzed Mexicans outside of a disco. My sister said it was cute. I was too busy chopping meat too look up.
After everybody was fed I went and sat outside with the men and poured myself a glass of whiskey on the rocks. At that point the liempo and tilapias came off the grill and they looked fabulous but we were too full to eat more. My sister and I were both thinking what amazing tacos the liempo and tilapia would make.
The lady folk started watching a movie inside the house, and the volume was LOUD and the girls were screaming LOUD. The movie was “Ettiquette of Mistresses” and from what I could gather it was about how this club of mistresses got disenchanted with the glamorous mistress lifestyle and in the end got their revenge by finding handsome boyfriends. In these movies everyone is rich and glamorous, always extremely well-lit for photography, and with porcelain white skin that looks like it would shatter if you flicked it with a finger or a boot. The formula is 1) be a fabulous, glamorous BETCH with a heart of gold, 2) get mistreated by a callous married man, 3) find a handsome unmarried boyfriend and say something to the married man that would embarrass him in front of others. This is basically the life of all Filipinos.
Anyway, my sister and I got to spend some quality time with Aunie B, and gave some New York advice to my lovely niece S. I asked a question about politics to my cousins, and got some long winded stories about the secret relationships of the oligarchy. Later niece A made some frosted muffins for us.
Cousin D and B drove us home in the jeep for mechanical reasons, and we spent the rest of the evening trying to plan our trip to the province the next day.