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So You Want to Learn How to Cook? Be Prepared to Google!

I had not gotten around to officially giving my seafood pasta a name.

Last week, I attended a family affair at my brother’s place in Las Piñas. Food was pot luck of sorts. My sister and I bought ingredients at Shop Wise in Alabang; and cooked everything at my brother’s kitchen.

I did my spicy seafood white pasta while my sister did her buttery and garlicky shrimps. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, cooked pork strips in soy sauce, calamondin and cream.

My nephew wanted to know what my pasta was called; and I told him, “Basta!” I had not gotten around to officially naming it yet.

Actually, I was half a mind of doing my seafood adaptation of the Thai soup tom yum, instead; but I could not find lemon grass at Shop Wise. Of course, my brother had to spoil my blissful ignorance by saying that lemon grass is ‘tanglad’ in Tagalog.

Which they had at Shop Wise.

Now, if you are picturing me as a local version of Dumb and Dumber To, how the eff was I supposed to know? All the cooking shows I watch are in English.

I thought about doing my seafood adaptation of tom yum, instead.

Besides, if Robinson’s Supermarket in Lipa labels the herb as ‘lemon grass,’ then there is a disconnect in that Shop Wise in Alabang labels it ‘tanglad.’

We are in the boondocks in Lipa, after all. Smiley.

We all had a good laugh not only about this sorry ‘tanglad’ business but also in how frustrating it can get to try to learn how to cook by watching the television shows. Half the time, one is left scratching one’s pate wondering what in God’s blood the ingredients are.

For instance, I told my niece, I used to wonder what bay leaf was. Google always comes in handy, of course. Bay leaf is laurel, lintik na ‘yan!

Do you know what bilimbi is? I asked my nephew. Blank stare. The same stare, I reckon, I myself do when I watch the master chefs on television. Calamias, I finally relieved him of his misery.

Wait, there’s more! The master chefs keep saying ‘shallots.’ Putris! Sibuyas. Why can they not just say onions?

What about cilantro, my brother asked. My turn to do the blank stare. ‘Wansoy,’ he put an end to my ignorance. Sometimes called ‘unsoy’ and Chinese parsley in English. Frankly, I am not fond of this herb. Tastes like soap.

When I told everyone that I also do a pasta with tripe, it was my brother’s turn to want to know what that was. ‘Towalya’ – towel – that part of the ox’s innards that looks not unlike a towel. We are all more familiar with this in the kare-kare.

By the way, the calamondin I mentioned earlier? ‘Calamansȋ’ or Philippine lime. We used to laugh at the old nanays who used to say ‘kalamunding’ instead of ‘calamansȋ.’ Well, as it turns out their version has an acceptable Engish adaptation.

The list goes on and on! Your humble ‘hiwas?’ Moon fish, naks! In English, it is not so humble at all. ‘Gabi’ the root crop? Taro. Peppercorn? That’s the ‘paminta’ before you dikdik it.

As the King of Siam loved to say in the Broadway musical, “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!”

So you want to learn how to cook? Be prepared to Google!