Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The smell only Filipinos can love

We were given an ample provision of dried fish from back home when we had our two-week vacation in October. We had Danggit, Squid, and Tuyo. I was hoping for a supply of anchovies, or dilis, but mom said they were out-of-stock in our local market. Dried fish has been an integral part of Filipino cuisine. Even if we are in far away countries, we still try our best to have supply of the dried stuff in our fridge, and enjoy them for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. Filipinos usually sneak in a few pounds of these dried fish and squid, cook them in places with very high ventilation and definitely away from the neighbors; or else firemen, or even policemen will come knocking at your door a few minutes after you start cooking.

Not all people smell the same. People have distinct smell depending on their places of origin, even if all people would wear the latest from Kenzo, Dolce and Gabbana, Paco Rabanne, or Brut. For example, no matter how they try, Americans would have the smell of milk. African Americans also have distinct smell. Same with Chinese, Koreans, and of course, Indians. Since we are islanders, people who smell us tell us that we Filipinos smell like fish. Not dried fish hopefully. This is primarily because of what we eat. We perspire what we eat, thus emitting the smell of our food. And it doesn’t smell too good if we work out after eating onions, garlic, and of course, dried fish… gwarrrrkkkk.

A couple of days ago we cooked the danggit that we took home from the Philippines. The danggit was soooo good, having that ultra crispy texture and salty taste. It was to die for. Our friend Aja stopped by to give us our pasalubongs from New York: no, not your traditional Yankees cap or “I heart NY” shirt, but rather two servings of Jolli-Spaghetti and 2-pc Chicken Joy from the Queens branch of the greatest Pinoy fastfood of all time, the fat funny, funky bee, Jollibee. We returned the favor by cooking dinner for her, with the best combination ever: Sinigang na Baboy and Danggit. If we were to be rated by Nigella Lawson or Ina Garten about our culinary combination, we’d be given a flat F-mark for that. But for us, it was the best. We had a hearty, plenty dinner, while leaving our kitchen, dining and living rooms heavily scented by the combination of the sinigang mix and the salty sensation of the danggit. Neither scented candle, nor Lysol can take the smell away. You need a few days for it to just be diffused into the outside air! But the heavenly taste of the danggit was all that mattered. It just gave us a portion of home. We were eating the danggit and sinigang as we listen to how John Lloyd implies that he and Shaina are now separated.

On Tuesday, I agreed that my lunch for the office is the dried squid. Bubbles woke up early that day to fry them, while I attend to my early-morning duties: sleep. I was awakened by that familiar smell, seeping through the tiny holes of our bedroom door. I thought the door was open because normally the smell of the food would not enter the bedroom. I underestimated the power of Pusit… That smell woke me up real fast, as I tried to extinguish the scent by spraying Lysol all over the place. And I was successful. I could smell both the dried squid and the Linen scent of Lysol at the same time. The freshener did not take out the smell, it just added another scent. Fantastic.

As Bubbles and I were walking to the doctor (she had gestational diabetes test this day), I smelled the familiar scent of home. I was nowhere near home but I could still smell that combination of linen and squid… Then, I realized: the smell stuck to my shirt and jacket! Luckily I was able to sneak into the office without meeting anyone or else somebody might have called the cops or fire brigade already. Knowing that the scent of the dried squid was overwhelmingly strong, I needed to do my fastest lunch break ever in our pantry. The squid is good and the smell, terrific. That is of course based on someone who was born and raised to tell that that scent was great. But for a modern American neighborhood, they would think otherwise. :) So I instantly finished my squid, washed the container and sprayed some alcohol and my tummy was satisfied. I won’t do the stunt again, in a few months again though. Probably during the summer so I can eat somewhere with proper ventilation. :)

Dried fish: it surely has that smell that only a Filipino could love. I would love to have a weekly fix of this delicious breakfast. I’ll make sure to also stack up on some fresheners just in case non-Filipino visitors come by (which is very seldom).


1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Lol! You said it all. It's an acquired taste.