Austere celebrations

3 07 2010

I STAYED glued to the TV during the whole inaugural rites for President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III to wait for one thing – the mention of the food.

I mean, yes, a part of me was on the lookout for a sighting of the most talked-about better (or is it “bitter”?) half, but seriously, I was waiting for a walk-through of the gastronomic fare.  Though it couldn’t be helped that I ended up carrying pocket discussions with Friendship, Mother, and The Corporate Teener on other matters of national importance.  All in 116 text messages I sent out.

Thanks to Ces Oreña-Drilon, I learned that Via Mare catered the reception.  And that among the food served at different stations in the hall were pritchon (fried “lechon” – roasted suckling pig – wrapped in pita wedges and served with a special sauce, usually hoisin), and kesong puti on pan de sal (local cottage cheese on Filipino breakfast rolls).  A couple of “fancier” sounding munchies were eggplant caviar, which was grilled eggplant stuffed in cherry tomatoes, and what I’d call as squash blossom fritters (I didn’t get how it was exactly called).

So in keeping with such austerity on a day when the 15th President should have been celebrating lavishly the most, I had to forego the very tempting roasted chicken dinner for “suam na halaan“ (Manila clams in a gingery broth with chili leaves).  I made it myself and it was perfect.

A beautiful, shelled Manila clam on perfectly steamed long grain white rice.

The key to making the best clam soup is making sure that the clams are clean.  And not just about scrubbing the shells clean.  But allowing the clams to give off all of its grit in a basin of lightly salted water.  This part of the preparation is non-negotiable with me.

No matter where I am and no matter the origin of the clams I use – whether they be from Maine (remember those Friendship?) or from the waters of home – the freshness of the ingredients and the cooking always ensure a most satisfying meal.

The TV was still on while I was having dinner and I fancied offering this dish to some head of state.  But it could be a bit tricky because they didn’t put up tables in the cocktail reception hall.

A batch of really fresh Manila clams from the market!


These clams were unusually large that when I saw them, I thought that I really had to get them.


The soup is ready! I call this batch, my "inaugural rites" soup!


As expected, the clams were really fat, and undeniably fresh!


Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.




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