Wednesday, 17 August 2011

José Rizal’s Favorite Dishes

When Rizal was in Dapitan, he often requested his mother, Teodora Alonso, to send him some Laguna cheese, mangoes and “terrinas de foie gras.” The cheese is made very well in his home province, Laguna whereas mangoes abound in the area. The foie gras must have been as expensive as it is now and must have reminded him of his visit to Juan Luna in his studio in Paris. 

Kesong Puti (white cheese) from Laguna
Laguna mangoes with bagoong (ermented shrimps)

Rizal wrote to another sister, Trinidad, that there were so many fruits to eat in Dapitan such as pineapples, atis and mangoes. He said he ate beef rarely and that he slaughtered one chicken a month. Pork was eaten more often, so that he expressed being tired of pork, and because more than five pigs a month were slaughtered, there was much more lard than the household could use even if he gave some away.

Philippine atis
In the same letter, he wrote that “fish is becoming scarce, and we only have anchovy and small shrimps.” Vegetables were also scant because Rizal hadn’t been planting anymore. That’s probably why he told his sister, Maria, that they had no more viand and requested for “tokwa (soy bean cake), monggo and dried small fish.”
Mongo with dried fish and ampalaya leaves
 It is Josephine Bracken who kept house for Rizal in Dapitan. Miss B, as he called her, makes suman, bagoong, bread and chili miso, adding that she has made so much of the bagoong and chili miso to last 10 years.   

Suman (steamed sticky rice in banana leaves)
When they didn’t have noodles for pancit, Miss B made a kind of long macaroni noodles out of flour and eggs, “which serves the purpose.”

In the last Christmas he spent in Dapitan, Rizal wrote: “We killed a small pig and a hen; we invited our neighbors; there was dancing; we laughed a great deal until dawn. We did not sleep on 31 December until the New Year.

Adapted from:

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