This is going to be a very postmodern/vignette-y post.

The following things happened this week:

  • Due to a total miscommunication, rent was deducted from our accounts….twice.
  • I found out that one of my students was living in a car.
  • I had my final evaluation and it went well…will find out if I’m coming back (or getting a pink slip) in March.
  • My entire 5th period class decided to cause a ruckus in the form of mutiny. 10 high school boys vs. me. Why am I doing this again?

Life of a teacher…I chose it. Not saying that I love it all the time, but when it’s good it’s really good. It’s an experience of the human heartbeat on a daily basis: young, fearless, passionate souls who have the entire world in front of them! (Do you remember?) There have been several times this year when I was a shoulder to cry on or a person to talk to. At the end of a day it feels like a war has been fought…but in my little microcosm of a classroom, I’d like to feel like some battles are being won. Maybe I’ll see those results…maybe not. But for a person who loves to love and give, and study and research and stir learning…this is the best profession.

And you thought this post was going to be about Bibingka.

Well….it…is!

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I called my mom up around 10am during the school day, in between break and 3rd.

“Want to come over and eat Filipino food?”

“Sure, what do you have in mind?”

“I think I want to do a snack.”

After considerable discussion about which Filipino restaurant to try, at 4:45pm my mom was at my house, ready to bring me and Siena to Toppings Tree in Santa Clara.

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It was a nice, clean, modern restaurant. Bruno Mars (who, by the way is half Filipino 🙂 was playing in the dining room; comfortable light expanded the room. This was not a turo-turo (pick-pick) restaurant, but more of a service restaurant where one orders their food and the servers bring it out to the dining room.

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Service was prompt, parking was good, and while I was there not only did I pick up that tasty bibingka...but I also spontaneously decided to try the bistek tagalog (soy-calamansi marinated beef with carmelized onions) with java rice (garlic sauteed rice) because…why not?

Although the bistek tagalog was pretty…delicious, I’m here to talk about bibingka.

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One quality that typifies Filipino cooking is that Filipino food represents a great conflation of cultures. For instance, take bibingka. Although its exact origin is unknown, there are stipulations that it does have some roots in China, as “bi” is the word for “rice” in Chinese. This is one of the many rice cake varieties we have in the Philippines. Some have also compared it to “bebinca”, an Indian pudding dish, which requires heat above and below to properly cook it, just as bibingka does.

The chief ingredient in bibingka is rice flour. Milk and eggs are sometimes added for consistency-sake. Then the batter is poured into a terracotta container lined with a banana leaf to give it that toasty banana flavor. Modern day bibingkas have various toppings as well such as salted duck egg, shredded coconut and pineapple. It is most often served at Christmastime.

Indeed, my family made bibingka at Christmastime at my grandmother’s. However, it was typical that we baked it. I was unaware of the authentic way of cooking bibingka. Now I have logged that in my “parking lot” of things that I want to try. The version at Toppings Tree was HUGE, dense and a cake-like consistency. Though tasty, my personal preference is for the bibingka to be moist. A warm bibingka topped with slivers of translucent, sweet coconut meat is being recollected at this exact moment. Christmas time in the 90s. I miss it!

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