Sunday, April 8, 2012

Pinakbet and Democracy: Wonder how democracy tastes like?

Democracy is like pinakbet, cooked the Ilocano way. You get to enjoy all the different tastes of the veggies in one dish and describe it exactly, as pinakbet.

Asians throughout the region have their chopsuey, and really, chopsuey and pinakbet are similarly cooked but pinakbet still reigns supreme over chopsuey, tastes and appearance wise. Ask any cook.

Had we followed the pinakbet democracy and not the chopsuey one we now have, we would have been more prosperous now.

Four days of eating pinakbet makes you thank your grandma for forcing you to appreciate eating veggies at a very young age. At 3, I was told, I was already eating my spinach and broccoli. At five, enjoyed my ampalayas, okras and those included in the pinakbet.

Pinakbet is really best eaten slightly raw. I like my veggies crunchy. When sauteed properly, it really tastes very nice. I don't know why Ilokanos cook pinakbet the best. I've been a Bulakeno who loves eating pinakbet for so many years already, I'm still clueless how they do it.

Ilocos is really one place where you can actually die, smiling. The weather is really good, the people are friendly and the food, wow. Like what I promised myself, I just ate pinakbet, buko juice, pinakbet, ice teas, pinakbet, some chicken, pinakbet and my trusted Coke.

Coke and Pinakbet are perfect duos. When you eat Ilokano pakbet, you don't need another viand, you just need to have two cups of rice and of course, coke. 

Compare Ilocano pakbet with the usual Tagalog pakbet. The Tagalog pakbet is cooked the Western way---wet, saucy and soft. See those veggies? They're like limp. Their unique tastes got lost in translation. 

Ilocano pakbet appreciates the uniqueness of every piece of veggie that are in the dish. The ampalaya tastes bitter, the beans, somewhat sweet, the camotes tastes like camotes, the spring beans tastes like spring beans, etc. Meaning, you get to savor the different complexities in one dish.

Think about the Ilokano way and study our political system. Democracy is supposed to be like pinakbet. 

Different tastes in just one excellent dish. Harmony just comes out from the dis-harmony or a melody from the discordance. If you think about it, why mix ampalaya (bitter) with say, spring beans (somewhat sweet)? Or ampalaya with, say, talong.

Pinakbet really reflects what life really is---a journey filled with sweet and bitter memories. Democracy is also like pinakbet---a society composed of individuals with different and differing viewpoints but lives from the harmony that results from the discordance.

Chopsuey is different. Try to ask any cook and have him admit how chopsuey came about--from the tira-tira that came from cooking Chinese dishes. One dash of salt, a cupfull of soy sauce, flour for thickening the soup, and some herbs make a chopsuey.

For pinakbet, you only need your imagination to cook yourself one. However, you just have to have that one thing that makes cooking one in an excellent way---patience. Without it, no pinakbet.