Fighting mall culture pt. 1

In a fit of boredom, I recently did an online search of “must-visit places in Metro Manila.” The expected hits (Ayala Museum, Intramuros, Divisoria, and Quiapo) turned up, but also making it to every Top Ten list and photo compilation were… shopping malls.

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. We’ve got Mall of Asia, the 4th largest mall in the world, the Greenbelt complex, awarded for its architecture, and an SM everywhere you turn. In general, the well-to-do Manilenyos of today have very much become a mall rat people, so naturally a shopping mall is what comes to mind when we think of our cities. But I refuse to believe that a look into our consumerist culture is the best of what Manila has to offer. Surely we have more to boast about than our concern for name brands and luxury, opulence and airconditioning. And so the search is on for places I can show off to both non-Manilenyos as well as Manilenyos who are tourists in their own city.

First stop: East Kapitolyo Drive, Pasig.

Kapitolyo is best known for Charlie’s Grind and Grill, but just down the street is a place called Poco Deli. Like its car wash-cum-grillery neighbor, Poco Deli’s outside looks nothing short of sketchy, an image aided by their having a doorman armed with a golf club (security budget’s tight). This inside is spacious and warmly lit though, and it feels homy without trying too hard (That’s you, Mary Grace).

Dan pondering the significance of mini chocolate chips in her life.

Dan and I shared the salmon pasta that didn't have much salmon. Still good, but I wish I had gone with the recommended 4 Cheese Pizza.

Andrew's German Nuemberger Sausage. Looks like an Offbeat Burger, but makes so much more sense.

Camille had the steak sandwich. One of their bestsellers, it's mozzarella cheese and grilled steak jammed between a bagel. It was suuuperduper.

Then we walked further down the street to Mad Mark’s Man Sandwich and Frozen Desserts, where they serve homemade ice cream at reasonable prices (P68 per scoop, in relation to Gelatissimo’s cringe-worthy P110).

Clockwise from top: Half-baked Madagascar, Madagascar Crumble, Javan Cocoa Hot Chocolate, and Dark Roast Sumatra.

Cams with her Dark Roast Sumatra and Andrew with his Madagascar Crumble

Ending it a little poorer, stuffed to bursting, and ready to go to bed (baboy reflex), I thought the evening was an encouraging start to what I really need to be an adventurous summer.


Cupcakes are always the answer

During Holy Week, everything shuts down: The MRT doesn’t run, radios emit static, and even malls that operate on Christmas day don’t open shop. For some people, these days leading up to Easter Sunday are set aside for the observation of religious traditions like visita iglesia and stations of the cross. For others, it has evolved into an extended holiday meant to be spent away from Manila, which empties the usually-packed roads so much that you half expect tumbleweed to roll by.

My family, however, ignores both these customs. We’ve never really been religious, which rules out taking part in the traditional Holy Week events. As we got older and things at home started to change, family trips just stopped getting planned; my mom works, my dad is with his girlfriend, and my siblings are married and have families and trips of their own.

So with nowhere to go, nowhere to be, no one to spend time with, and no way around, I’ve come to associate Holy Week with resourcefulness. What can be done to repel the boredom?

Yesterday, after two movies and a book, I decided that the answer to that question was an improvised cupcake recipe: Dark chocolate cake and three different kinds of icing.

I got the cake part of the recipe from here (sour cream and cupcakes just don’t make sense together though, so I scrapped that part).

I made vanilla buttercream frosting at first, but that was boring.

So I turned it into chocolate buttercream frosting!

I didn’t like the consistency of the icing though, so i tried out a peanut butter version instead.

I don’t eat what I bake though, so these are up for grabs.

Next, lemon sorbet :)

The Salgado house, where the will to stay thin goes to die

If you ever need to eat your weight in lutong-bahay na sosyal food and not regret it, Cara’s house is the place to go.

She turned twenty recently, and in celebration of her departure from her teen years, she served paella, greek salad, angel hair pasta, fish, salad rolls, red velvet cakes, and an unending supply of amazing cupcakes. I think that eating a little (okay, a lot) of all of that was a jab at the version of myself who sometimes insists that looking good in a bikini takes priority over enjoying excellent food.

It didn't even occur to me to just go back for more later.

There’s been a lot of nonsense among my own friends lately about what it takes to stay thin. Too many times I’ve heard of people going to the gym everyday, sniffing food to satisfy a craving, counting calories, drinking only juice for days on end, and jumping on the bandwagon of every new and ridiculously priced workout regimen. While their toned legs and flat stomachs say that their efforts were not in vain, I look at them as they push away their carbs and sugars and  seriously question their emotional stability.

I worry that they’ve equated their self-worth with what they see when they step in front of a mirror or onto a weighing scale, and they’ve lost the ability to look at themselves objectively. They hunger for approval, so every spoonful of rice is an obstacle to their goal, every bite of a cupcake a hurdle in the way of their happiness, until nothing is good enough. There’s nothing wrong with working on your appearance, until it becomes the basis for the way you do and view everything else.

Maybe watching people I know do this to themselves is why, instead of spending my first weekend of summer running off the weight I gained during the school year, I lounged about my house, reading books, watching movies, and downloading music. Ironically, hearing them go on about their weight has been a constant reminder to me that there are things in life that deserve to be ranked above my lack of abs.

But I digress. All I meant to do when I started this entry was post food pictures. So let’s get to it.

Greek salad a la Cyma

Red velvet birthday cake!