Sira-sira store: Pretend cooking

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Friday, February 21, 2014

CHILDREN like to make-believe. They have pretend washing; pretend shopping with pretend money (toy money); pretend eating and making the appropriate sounds of sipping soup and chewing beef; and pretend cooking.

I remember my sisters playing this last one when we were kids. I would be the “man of the house” and they were either “the aunt” or “the mother.” The mother of the day would stir soup-that-does-not-exist in a plastic pot and add invisible salt and pepper. She would fry pretend beef and onions.

She would call out “Lunch!” after she had placed the plastic plates on the plastic table—oh, gee, this is back in the days when little girls played with toys such as Barbie dolls and plastic utensils, and boys like me would play with toy guns.


You do get the drift of the story. Everything was pretend. But little did I know that one day, this old fashioned child’s play would come in handy for a friend of mine.

Ging, who is all thumbs when it comes to anything to do with the kitchen, wanted to impress a potential boyfriend who seemed to have the makings of a good husband one day.

“| want him to think that I am good at cooking. Can you help me?”

Illustracio and I told her that it’s better to let the guy know her ugly secret, for after all, he may not be looking for a good cook but a good wife who will love him till the end of time and not the baking timer.

“But he said he likes his mom’s cooking and likes women like his mom who know how to cook, especially roasted chicken,” Ging said.

“Illustracio and I can cook for you, but roasted chicken needs skills in Thai massage, fashion and surgery, and the heart of a serial killer. I mean, you have to have the heart to wring the neck of the bird. Then you have to dress the chicken properly so that not a feather is left on its goose-bumpy skin. Then you have to know how to infuse its meat with the marinade, massaging the chicken thoroughly,” I said.

“You’re not funny,” Ging said but she laughed anyway.

“A guy can try. And did you know that there’s a survey that women go for the comedian more than the good-looking hunk next door? Is your man funny?”

“He’s macho,” she said.

“That’s trouble: A macho guy who can’t part with his mother. Is he a mama’s boy then?” Illustracio asked.

“Please, just help me prepare a dinner that I will ‘cook’ at home. My mom told me the same thing—that I should come up clean with my lack of culinary skills, but I am afraid to lose him.”

Since she promised to give us a barbecue treat in Rico’s, Illustracio and I got to work. We told her she could do pretend cooking. My friend and I would prepare the kare-kare (the guy’s favorite), pancit palabok and the empanada, but the roasted chicken would have to come from San Pedro or Chooks or Tik-tilaok.

On the day of the dinner, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work while Ging primped up herself. Selfish? No, just in love.

Ging’s mom prepared the green salad and the creamy mushroom soup since Ging said the guy was sort of stuffy, insisting on some kind of fine dining deal at home.

“Do you really want to get stuck with this kind of guy? What about me? I’m simple and funny,” I told Ging. Anyway, Illustracio unwrapped the roasted bird and plopped it on a baking tray sprayed with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic and herbs. He popped it into the oven and just when it started to smell heavenly, Ging’s guy arrived, with his mom.

“Wow, that smells good,” he said. But during dinner he kept saying that the chicken tasted like it came from Tik-tilaok or something. That did it.

Ging dropped the guy that night and next day, Illustracio and I enjoyed the reward she promised us.


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 22, 2014.


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