Wanting to cook

The very sharp and uberchic Maria Regina “Regina” Lopez Araneta and her husband Enrique “Rick” de la Fuente Teodoro [ a first cousin of Gibo Teodoro ], whom I call “Tita Regina” and “Tito Rick,” visit Manila every January from Vancouver, Canada, where they are based.  Tita Regina always brings me a bagful of chic and yummy goodies, which always includes a good book.  Last year, it was “Paris Tales”  stories translated by Helen Constantine.  This year, among the comestibles was a bottle of expensive French black truffles and the book, a New York Times bestseller, “My Life in France” by Julia Child and Alex Prud’homme.

For the first time in my life, I finally read a book that interested me so much it made my mouth water and, surprise of surprises, actually made me want to cook… !!!

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As a Capampangan, as an Arnedo, and as a Gonzalez, I was born into food.  Great food.  And lots of it.  As a Capampangan, I have a daring Chinese-type palate, and will eat and enjoy practically anything that’s edible.  As an Arnedo, I have a marked preference for classical, rich French and Spanish dishes, also French- and Spanish-inflected Filipino dishes, bursting with generous, high-quality ingredients, cooked carefully, skillfully, even slowly, with unparalleled expertise;  I also enjoy entertaining dear friends at long “degustation” lunches and dinners with processions of elaborate dishes.  As a Gonzalez, and it was the late Brother Andrew Benjamin F.S.C. who was the ultimate embodiment of it all, I thoroughly enjoy and revel in imported culinary excesses of the first order, almost suicidal indeed, which ultimately lead to disease and death:  a hundred oysters in one sitting, twelve pigeons from a “Pastel de Pichon,” thick Wagyu and Angus Beef steaks medium rare, frightening platefuls of Jamon “Jabugo” and Jamon “Bellota,” twelve pieces of “Tocino del Cielo,”  a twenty-piece boxful of “Fauchon” “marrons glaces,”  an entire pitcher of “Chocolate eh” for merienda… [ notice the absence of leafy salad greens, although I eat those too for health’s sake ].  That’s why I always took food for granted.  I never even bothered to go into the kitchens, although we kiddies always pestered the staff for goodies.  Unlike my eldest brother who was always with his gangmates out in the streets, or my younger brother who was always in the staff quarters with the male staff, or my sister who was always in the bedrooms with the “yayas,”  I was proud that my natural domains as a child were the living room, the dining room, and the library.  In those rooms, I reigned supreme.  Only because nobody was there.  Of course, there were many visitors and endless meals, but other than those times, I was alone with beautiful things and beautiful books.  I was perfectly happy.

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