I loathe Valentine’s day. Cupid cutouts make me cringe. So do heart-shaped chocolate bonbons and red silk roses. Cakes and cookies frosted with pink dyed sugar remind me of antacids.
I simply don’t see the point of this holiday. Aren’t we supposed to show our affection to our loved ones everyday?
I sound too jaded but you can’t blame me. This pretentious holiday brings back images from my childhood I’d rather forget. I felt so different from my peers back then and I tried desperately to fit in. I hated myself for being different. For being gay. It was a difficult struggle and I resigned myself to the fact that finding love would be even more difficult. Nearly impossible. And if I did find love, I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to love him openly. Valentine’s day was for straight people. No heart-shaped pancakes for me. Only heartwrenching Whitney Houston love songs.
It is what it is. But people are right when they say that it gets better because it did, eventually.
There won’t be any champagne tonight. Maybe just a piece of Choc-Nut to curb our sweet tooth. There won’t be any red roses. Maybe tulips. Those yellow and orange striped ones that Dennis and I both like. No fancy dinner, too, but a simple, homecooked meal instead. I’m thinking arroz a la Cubana — savory ground beef and pork with fried saba bananas, fried eggs and plenty of rice. Dennis loves fried eggs with rice. He loves how the rich yellow yolk dresses the soft grains of rice. He adores fried sabas and plantains, too. He loves how the edges of sliced bananas crisp and caramelize when fried. These are things he didn’t grow up with back in Ohio. Food he’d never enjoyed until he met me.
It’ll be a quiet evening. Just the two of us. At home with Stanford nosing around, of course, and our week-old girls chirping charmingly.
No heart-shaped pancakes. And no more sad love songs.
Arroz a la Cubana Recipe
Recipe adapted from Reynaldo G. Alejandro’s Authentic Recipes from the Philippines, makes 4 servings
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 shallots, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground lean beef
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas, thawed completely
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 pieces ripe saba bananas, peeled, sliced lengthwise, and pan-fried in 3 tablespoons canola oil
4 eggs, fried sunny-side up
Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add and saute garlic until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add shallots and saute until fragrant and softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add beef, pork, soy and Worcestershire sauces. Stir and crumble as it cooks. Brown meat over medium heat, about 15 minutes.
Add raisins and peas, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drain excess fat before serving.
Serve with rice, fried eggs, and fried bananas.
How to Make Arroz a la Cubana is Jun-blog’s entry to this month’s Kulinarya Cooking Club, a friendly group of Filipino food lovers from all around the world. Each month the club assigns a theme to showcase a new Filipino dish. For the month of February, the challenge was to create a dish that reminds you of your first love like pork sisig, biko, baked oysters, shrimp and tofu lumpiang sariwa, tiramisu sandwich, lechon manok, avocado-calamansi sorbet, fruit compote, chilli crab, pork menudo, lomi, and longganisa pandesal pizza.
I want Jun-blog!Jun Belen is the voice behind Jun-blog, a mouthwatering and heart-warming journal of Filipino home cooking nominated for Best Culinary Blog by the IACP. Subscribe to Jun-Blog and receive new posts by email.
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