Saturday, December 20, 2008


salmon mousse
Even this early, I am already stressing about our second Christmas dinner (December 26) which is traditionally spent with the inlaws.

This year, I am assigned to prepare the appetizers, and I am cracking my brain to find something pleasing to the tastebuds that will go with fondue. Yup.... fondue! I was thinking of salmon mousse or salmon amuse. But I'm not so sure. Because although it sounds a bit like fish and chips, I´m not quite convinced the salmon and cheese go together! And especially not for the traditional family Christmas dinner! So you see, I´m not exactly thrilled about the whole idea. Last year, our theme was Italian and I prepared the salad. That was easy. But fondue?

Fondue is basically our Filipino shabu-shabu counterpart, except that you dip the meat (bread, vegetables, etc) into the delicious cheese (or chocolate) mix instead of the regular meat stock we use for shabu-shabu. The recipes vary from family to family, and even from country to country.

In Switzerland, they eat fondue with Swiss army knives and prepare it with loads of goat cheese. In Germany, they use potatoes. In France, they dip French bread. But fondue originated high in the alps where farmers become extremely isolated during the winter months. Back here, people prepare it when they don't have the time to cook because you can always buy a pre-packed of fondue.

My mother-in-law however, mixes hard & soft cheeses, and white wine. It always tastes delicious.....! Most of all, it´s fun to do. Try it sometime with your friends and kids. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Fog of Hengelo.

Photos: Somerset, England

Yesterday, I woke up to an enchanting, magical world. Tiny drops of rain floating in the air. Clouds at ground level. It was like being in Avalon. Except that there was neither an Arthur nor a Morgan Le Fay. No nymphs or fairies. No forging of the excalibur. No Merlin. In fact, it was just The Fog of Hengelo.

I went outside in my backyard. I tried catching the tiny droplets in my palm. It felt like re-living my 5th grade again when Mrs. Digo, our Science teacher, taught us about precipitation and condensation. I could almost hear her voice whispering in my ears, `when the visibility is less than 200 meters, it´s fog. When it's somewhere between 1-2 kms, it´s mist.´

The visibility was so poor, I could not see anything. Not my backyard. Or my neighbor´s fence. Nothing. It´s actually like being blind.... except that you are not blind. You can see. You think you know where you're going. At the same, you see nothing and you don't know where you're going. Ahh.... this is fog, I told myself. Just like what Mrs. Digo taught us.

Living in Europe still continues to fascinate me. The mass of fog.... the thick mist.... the large hailstones... the flurry snow.... the crisp floral scent of springtime... the damp stench of autumn.... the intrusive spicy summers.... the mystic winter. These were all new to me seven years ago, but everytime I see or experience them it's always like the first time. My jaws would drop and my eyes would grow big out of excitement. And like an eager child, I smile from ear to ear! lol

Sunday, December 14, 2008

baby killer.

Last December 1 of this year, the body of a dead baby boy was found in a city close to where I live. A DNA profiling was employed to identify the identity of the unknown mother/killer. Last Thursday, the forensic scientists had identifed the mother. A 23- year old young lady, who claims that she was not ready to take complete responsibility for her life or the child because she is young and still wants to enjoy life.

This is the second baby found dead in Enschede this year. My heart of course goes to the babies. They were not even given a proper burial. They were simply wrapped in a grocery bag, and were dumped in the garbage.

I still shudder at the thought. How could a mother do something like that to her child? She has to be sick to commit such a barbarous crime! Her friends and classmates claim that they didn´t even know that she was pregnant.

Apparently, the young lady went regularly on a drinking spree. But she claims to be poor. She claims that poverty drove her to do such a horrendous act. She blames the government and society for not taking care of people like her. Her lawyer advices her to plead insanity. Is she really? Insane, that is.

We all know that in criminal trials, the insanity defenses are possible defenses by excuse so that the defendant will not be held criminally liable for breaking the law..... for terminating the life of an innocent child!

I am so upset. I don´t understand why some people live in a savage state.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

and you think you know better.

Julia had been my piano student for over 2 years now. She just turned 6 when I first met her back in November 2006. In the beginning, I was hesitant to take her in. She could barely read the alphabet, let alone notes!

But I saw talent. The kid has a good ear. Although she can't read notes, she can play short, simple passages that I showed her during our first meeting, without the aid of a music book. So I took her in.

Julia's parents are a young couple. Her mom was about 26 at that time. Her dad was about 28 or 29 years old. They are not very sophisticated people, but they have horses and Julia even at a very tender age then, could already mount and ride her pony like a real equestrian. I was extremely impressed. But none of them had serious music training.

Julia turned 9 last week. And boy, how she had grown. I watched her while she played. She doesn´t like Mozart because she finds the pieces too common. Kabalevsky and Shostakovitch do not appeal to her because their language is too alien for her, she said. (She reminded me actually of myself when I first played Bartok. I wanted to rip off the page! HAHAHA) And Bach, she thinks, is too technical. Just the same, I gave her Bach.

But when she came last Thursday, I was rather annoyed of her attitude. She didn´t want to play her Etudes. See, this is the problem when you have a gifted student. They tend to grow easily bored, and they think they can play everything.

So I asked her what she wanted to play. She said, Fur Elise. I stared at her in disbelief. Of course she can´t play Fur Elise! Her fingers are too stiff for the running passages in the third section of the piece, and she is simply not ready for it. She doesn´t have the discipline. And she is too lazy to bother to study her lessons.

But I can give her Fur Elise for her recital piece in Spring. No question about that. She can play it in no time. No doubt about that either. I know, she can do it. But I want her to want it so badly. I want her to value the discipline that goes with the musical training.

After she left, I stopped for a moment. It made me think of those people who tried to stop me in the past, because they thought they knew better. Those people who thought they can teach me a lesson by making me want it so badly. And of course, I did exactly the opposite thing to spite them. In the end, we were both losers.

But think about it, how often do we play god? Deciding the fate of someone. Pretending we have all the answers. Truly, why do we think we know better? Is it because of experience, or is it because we are too proud to admit to ourselves that some people .... make that, some kids are just too darn good.