Thursday, July 19, 2007

Something about vinegar

For me it's not something... it's a bit of everything you want to know more about vinegar... I was amazed that banana can be too.

Something about vinegar

By Micky Fenix
Last updated 10:58pm (Mla time) 07/18/2007

Anyone who wants to research on how much vinegar is used in an ordinary Filipino household has only to go to my home.

Every month we get a supply of sukang Paombong, the nipa palm vinegar from a town in Bulacan, and a gallon is always not enough. It is used for cooking and as dipping sauce, as sterilizer for salad greens and, occasionally, to satisfy my hankering for something sour to sip.

Sipping vinegar was a preoccupation of the older girls in the family. It was part of our game, as young girls, to display our whitened lips after our vinegar experience. I take comfort in the fact that some friends did the same in the past. That makes my siblings and me less weird.

These days, however, my throat has not been receptive to this sipping exercise. This weakness began when I was asked to sip aged balsamic vinegar some years back. I coughed for what seemed like an eternity.

Thank goodness that in one vinegar-tasting event of the International Wine and Food Society, we were taught that placing a cube of sugar between one’s teeth while sipping will reduce the acidity. I was, thus, able to enjoy the different kinds of wine vinegar such as champagne that was used to flavor our fish kinilaw that day.

The quality of the vinegar used in cooking reflects on the food. I always tasted the difference when we had our supply of grade A coconut vinegar from my father-in-law in Leyte.

Fish paksiw is infinitely better when the vinegar is top notch. Even when you have the freshest fish, it will be wasted on acetic acid that poses as vinegar.

Different sources

We have so many kinds of vinegar made from different sources. Pia Lim Castillo, in her paper presented at the 2005 Oxford Symposium on Food, enumerated these as from “saps of palm trees, sugar cane, fruits and alcoholic beverages.”

She described in detail how vinegar is made from each of those. Coconut vinegar is made from the sap of the inflorescence or the flower-bearing stalk. Nipa palm and the sugar palm (kaong) produce sap from slashes made in their stalks. Vinegar from sugar cane is obtained from the juice that has been cooked then placed in jars to ferment.

How the sap was made to flow from the nipa stalk was demonstrated to Pia and me by the banks of a Bulacan fishpond. It involved kicking the stalk. We thought the tree must shed tears (sap) all right from all that kicking.

What has been branded as Paombong vinegar is made from this nipa sap. It has a tendency to darken because it contains iron. Pia wrote that the old folks said Paombong vinegar could not be pure if it did not darken.

With the kaong tree, sap is collected only from male trees. The flowering stalks are rocked to attract fruit flies and this signals that the time is ripe to tap the stalks. The brand name of one commercial kaong vinegar used the tree’s scientific name, Arengga Pinnata.

Sukang Iloko is the other branded vinegar made from basi, sugar cane wine, which has turned sour. Pia said “tanbark and leaves are added to impart a different flavor and coloring.”

Some people call this vinegar “balsamic” probably because of its dark color or to tell people that it is as good as that aged Italian vinegar.

Newest vinegar

The newest vinegar version I got was made from latundan, a variety of banana that is my favorite. Latundan does not keep long and so it is great to know that it can reemerge as something else that tastes good as well. Ige Ramos, artist and book designer, gave me a gallon from his home province of Cavite.

A vinegar is enhanced by the addition of other ingredients.

The sinamak vinegar of Iloilo has ginger, garlic, galangal (blue ginger) and chili. It is a must-dip for chicken inasal, the achuete-colored slightly sour grilled chicken.

Today, groceries carry bottled vinegar with siling labuyo (bird’s eye chili) floating in the liquid. Claude Tayag gave me his aged 6-year-old coco vinegar with so much siling labuyo. Just looking at it scares people who cannot stand hot food. He has huge dama juanas (demijohns) of vinegar fermenting in one corner of his house.

I was recently introduced to pinakurat, a vinegar said to come from Iligan. It is highly spiced, at least the one I tasted. The liquid is cloudy but I do not know what went into it. Pinakurat has traveled from its Mindanao home to Manila specialty markets.

For me, vinegar tasting should have chicharon because pork crackling is the best medium to taste different versions. The two times I have done this kind of tasting, every participant giggled because each felt guilty about enjoying the exercise.

It was particularly great when the chicharon came as big as a table for four with each guest breaking off a piece and dipping it into the particular vinegar they wanted to taste.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mr. Thingamajig

I enjoyed listening to Mr. thingablahblah. :D

What's a Doohickey?

Sometimes, Americans have little mental pauses, where something’s right on the tip of our tongue, but we can’t think of the exact word—or when we want to euphemise unseemly speech. Fortunately, there’s a way around this that doesn’t involve brain surgery or duct tape. We use substitution words that can mean anything and everything.

Here’s an ode to mental vacuity.

Substitution Words
I was rooting willy-nilly through a buncha stuff, looking every whichway for the dinky little whatchamacallit to fix the goldong thingamajig, but good ol’ whatsizname had put it in the hooziwhatsit, as usual! Boy oh boy, what a load of hooey. Always the same old rigamarole with that cockamamie bozo. He’s such a pipsqueak! If I found it, ka-ching, I’d be rich, which would be just jim dandy! I'd be totally discombobulated. You-know-who had done you-know-what with the goofy little gadget again, so whaddyaknow ... there was something-or-other wrong with it. What a snafu! I had a heck of a time getting ahold of whatsername to come over and take care of it with her special little doohickey that she keeps there in the thingamabob. For the gazillionth time, the flightly little flibbertigibbit said alrighty, she wouldn't shilly shally, she’d schlep over with her widget fixer and whatnot to do a bodaciously whizbang job on the whole shebang. That's right, the whole kit 'n caboodle, no ifs, ands, or buts about it ... no malarkey. Okee dokey, but she was a skosh busy right then, yada, yada, yada. Yessirreebob, we usually have gadgets galore, but what with the this-and-that, and all the hooplah, it’s all topsy turvy today, ’cuz that humungous nincompoop is still in the whatsit acting like everything's just hunky dory. That's just a bunch gobbledeegook. Pure gibberish. He's such an old rapscallion. Jeeminy Christmas, the shenanigans of that old fogey. Yackety schmackety, blah, blah, blah! Shucks, I wanted to find it on my own, and not be penalized for it—I’m just so darned tired of gimme’s and gotcha’s by a lotta has-been nosybones out hobnobbing with hoity toity wannabes. The real nitty gritty is that, young and old, they’re just a buncha happy-go-lucky whippersnappers and cantankerous old fuddyduddies who don’t know diddly. I poked among the gewgaws, tchotchkes, gimcracks, and knickknacks, there in the doodad, but I found zilch, zero, zippo, nil, nada and null. So-and-so told me such-and-such about the deeleebob, but I just don’t know where that little gizmo is. Sheesh! It’s a big whoopdedoo when you can’t even remember where the gosh diddly darned whaddyacallit is!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Cascades are disbanding...

Things really come and go... and here we are, after a reunion news, a disbanding news is now in circulation.

The Cascades are disbanding
FUNFARE By Ricardo F. Lo
Tuesday, July 3, 2007

First, the sad news: The Cascades are disbanding.

Now, the good news: The quartet — composed of John Gummoe, Gabe Lapano, Tony Grasso and Chuck Crews — is holding a series of what may be their farewell performances in August, so all ye “Cascaders” better be there.

The Cascades had an SRO concert at the Araneta Coliseum in April, 2005, almost 40 years after their debut performance here in the late ‘60s at the height of its popularity.

The phenomenal success of its two-night return engagement six months later, also at the same venue, cemented the enduring tie of the American vocal group with local music lovers, notably the “Baby Boomers” generation. The ultimate tribute to the group came in June last year when its 2006 international concert tour turned into a massive and resounding outpouring of affection and admiration from the multitude of fans who packed the Big Dome and shattered all previous attendance records of a Cascades concert.

But just like all good things that must come to an end, the final curtain will now fall on the comeback campaign of this brilliant group after a successful run of two exciting and fulfilling years. I am sure fans will be greatly saddened to know that The Cascades had decided to disband indefinitely for its four members to resume their individual activities that they had temporarily shelved for the ongoing revival tour.

“When The Cascades reunited two years ago,” concert promoter and musicologist Steve O’Neal told Funfare, “it was with the understanding that its members would perform only for a limited period of time, that’s why they took an indefinite leave from their regular jobs. What they did not reckon with was the tremendous and enthusiastic response of millions of fans worldwide, especially in the Philippines, so much so that their engagement as a group had to be extended.”

But the good news is that The Cascades quartet will fade away from the music scene not with a whimper but in style by celebrating the momentous event with their fans during their series of farewell performances. Billed as Farewell Tour: The Cascades, the eight-city concert series to be presented by Steve O’Neal Productions will kick off with a major show on Aug. 3 at the Aliw Theater at the CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City. Other performances are slated at the Centro, Legenda Hotel, Subic Bay Freeport (Aug. 9); Hyatt Hotel & Casino-Manila (Aug. 10); Casino Filipino-Angeles City (Aug. 11); Casino Filipino-Tagaytay City (Aug. 12); Capiz Auditorium, Roxas City (Aug. 14); Cebu International Convention Center (Aug. 17) and Limketkai Mall, Cagayan de Oro City (Aug. 19).

According to O’Neal, The Cascades has chosen Manila as the venue of its farewell tour as “a token of appreciation” for its thousands of fans who have shown their unwavering devotion and support during the past 40 years.

“The Cascades will forever cherish many fond memories of its visits to the country during the past two years, especially the warm friendship, affection and hospitality of Pinoy music lovers — from ordinary fans to big celebrities — who took time to attend its three sold-out concerts in 2005 and 2006.”

Among the prominent personalities who have watched The Cascades shows were Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Vice President Noli de Castro, former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay and MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando (who is also a singer in his own right, being a member of the vocal group, The Three Tenors, along with Department of Environment and National Resources Secretary Angelo Reyes and former Senator Joey Lina).

On the other hand, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos not only attended last year’s dinner-show at The Manila Hotel but also opened her San Juan City home to The Cascades when she honored the quartet with an intimate dinner.

For this farewell tour, The Cascades have prepared a special and different line-up of new and old songs, most of them from their last album from Warner Music All The Way To Yesterday, a compilation of the acoustic versions of their hit tunes, including the title song.

For sure, “Cascaders” (this one included, along with Vivian Sarabia who is a great fan of Oldies but Goodies) will be there to relive beautiful memories of a bygone era via the quartet’s well-loved songs of which my No. 1 favorite is Rhythm of the Rain (played over six million times, ranking No. 9 in BMI’s Top 100 Most Performed Songs of the Century).

Let’s bid The Cascades a fond farewell by singing Rhythm of the Rain. All together now:

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain

Telling me just what a fool I’ve been

I wish that it would go and let me cry in vain

And let me be alone again

The only girl I care about has gone away

Looking for a brand-new start

But little does she know

That when she left that day

Along with her she took my heart

Rain please tell me now does that seem fair

For her to steal my heart away when she don’t care

I can’t love another when my heart’s somewhere far away

(Note: Tickets to the Aliw Theater concert — priced at P2,500, P2,000, P1,500 and P1,000 — are available at Ticketworld outlets at major National Book Store branches, Robinsons Department Stores, Tower Records and Ayala Centers. For inquiries, call Ticketworld at 891-9999.)