Despedida

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When last I wrote, I had just returned back from our day trip to the great city in the mountains, Baguio City. I believe they call it the summer city of the north. Why? Because it is much cooler there in the summer than in the lower areas surrounding it, of course!

Our trip was a good one, but tiring. I awoke the following day not feeling much like doing anything, but I had an idea for the following day. I wanted to make a dish that I am known for here in the U.S. Nothing crazy, but it is well liked by many of my friends and family. Spaghetti. Now, I have to warn you that I was raised on a simple jar spaghetti sauce, which is not bad if you don’t really know how to cook, or just want something quick and easy. But, as I… um, grew older, and my taste buds matured, I decided that a simple sauce from the jar was not good enough for my palette. So, I began experimenting, and came up with what came to be known and favored with my friends and family. At that point in time, I started with jarred sauce and modified. NOW, I am a complete by scratch kind of guy. But, I digress.

Spaghetti

Spaghetti

So, I tell my lovely fiancée, Joan, that I would like to make her and her family a nice dinner of spaghetti with homemade garlic bread, and maybe a fruit salad as desert. Which means what exactly? Yet another trip to the mall. If I haven’t already expressed this to you, I hate the mall. Not the mall where we went in Dagupan City. I hate ANY mall. I hate ALL MALLS! But, this is the only place that I personally know of that will, I pray, have the things I need for my spaghetti dinner. We make the trip, by driver and private van, of course. And enter the grocery part of the mall. We start going aisle by aisle looking for everything. I find the ground beef, the bags of spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, and then I get to the spice aisle. Or, maybe I should say spice shelf. Ok, a section of shelf. Where are the danged spices?! Needless to say, the spices I use are few and far between. I will have to improvise my recipe, and do with what I have. Ok. Bread. Where is the bread aisle? Bread aisle? There is no bread aisle! Seriously? Where can I get some bread? Well, the bakery of course! Now, I’m starting to feel like I’ve stepped back in time. I have to go to an actual bakery for bread? Sir, yes sir. Ok. Let’s go!

We find a bakery, which looks very nice from the outside, and the smells of fresh baking bread get my blood stirring. I’m getting excited! I love fresh made bread! I think it’s from when I was a kid and my mom would make it on a weekend morning. Waking up to the smells of bread baking is an awesome treat! Joan and I walk into the bakery and everything looks empty. Are they out of business? It seems odd. So, I ask a clerk about some bread. She informs me that she has all kinds of bread, which relieves my tension, for about a minute. When I tell her I am looking for Italian loaf bread for making garlic bread she informs me that they make it every morning, but that they sell out, and have none left. Scavenge and rescue mode kicks in, and I ask for what they have. She shows me all kinds of types of bread, none of which should be used for garlic bread. She then says, I have hot dog buns. Now, I am an American, in a foreign country, so I am a little amused at this thought. But, then I see the hot dog buns. They’re perfect! They are huge, but they are WAY bigger than an American hot dog bun, and they’re baked individually, so they look like Italian loaf bread. I’m sold! We gather up our purchases of hot dog buns, neigh, miniature Italian bread loafs, and we head home to cook.

So, I need one more thing for my sauce. This is my secret weapon, but you can feel free to use it if you choose. I make my sauce with mozzarella cheese directly in the sauce. Not a lot, but enough to tickle the senses. Oh, how difficult it is to find cheese in the Philippines. We went EVERYWHERE!!! Giving up on the cheese, we stop for pizza to take back to our friends, who asked us to bring them back one. As I’m watching them make the pizza, I see something wonderful!!! Mozzarella cheese being sprinkled on the pizza!! AHH!!!!!! “Where do you get the cheese for that pizza”?! I asked. Back aisle, in the small refrigerator case. Oh man. After I had given up all hope of finding cheese, it finds me!

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Now this is where the surprise comes. “This is your despedida”, my fiancée says. “My what?”, I ask. “Your despedida”, says Joan. What is that? Well, as it turns out, it’s a party you throw for yourself to when you are going away. Now, I don’t know how this went from a private dinner for 10 or 12 to a despedida, but I think since I am cooking and preparing things, I should have been told in advance. Ok. I’m going with the flow, after all, it’s been a great time, and I have ZERO stress. Well, I didn’t. So, how many people will be attending this despedida? Unknown. Now, I’m stressed. We are only a couple hours from dinner and I don’t think I have enough food. I guess we’ll just wing it and see how it goes. If we run out of food, they can just say how dumb the American is for not preparing enough for an army. An army, by the way, is what I am told to expect. The story of how people get invited, and the invite others on the way to the party is ringing in my ears as I brown the meat in the pot. The sauce is cooked, and I’m looking at about 6 pounds of noodles. Now, you don’t know me, but when I throw a party I like to make sure everyone has enough to eat, and has a good time. I don’t think I have enough sauce or noodles! We cook the noodles in batches and add them to the pot as we go. I have made a 40 qt. pot of spaghetti, and about 3 gallons of fruit salad. We are going to run out! I am so sure of this, I would donate a kidney for a double batch. Luckily nobody needed a kidney at the moment.

We arrive at the party in time to cook the garlic bread. I want it fresh and hot for the guests. What do I encounter? A countertop toaster oven that holds two pieces of bread. Oh my, oh my! But, all is good! I am, after all, in the Philippines and in the presence of my new family. I get to work on the garlic bread, and the first batch I make, I cut into little pieces for the kids to try. That was a mistake. Now, they’re standing there, waiting for more to come out of the toaster oven!! I slowly make all the bread and continue to cook the last of it as the guests begin to arrive. They are fed, and seemed to enjoy the meal. Apparently, spaghetti there is sometimes made with milk and also sugar. I’ve seen sugar used here to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, but I don’t do that style. I like a robust and savory sauce. So, everything is ready. As the guests arrive, they eat the spaghetti and love it and the bread. Or so, I am told. The kids DEFINITELY loved it, and wore a lot of it on their cute little faces.

It was time for dessert! Fruit salad, American style. Well, sort of. I used pineapple, apples, oranges, pears, grapes, and one Pomelo I had received from my new Grandma’s yard. Everything was cut up, there was no ice. There was no condensed milk. It was, an American style fruit salad!!! The way “I” like it! As it turns out, the kids loved it too. I lost track of how many times they came back for more to put in their bowls. But, I was happy they liked it, and was happier that there was enough to give them more. The spaghetti, on the other hand, was gone. I barely had a chance to get some for myself!!! Let me tell you something, after all the work I put into finding the stuff for that food, and then cooking it… if I didn’t get some, I would have been a VERY unhappy man! But, all ended well. Everyone had enough to eat, or was polite enough to say they had, and we relaxed and talked for a while together with my new friends and family.

Until next time. Salamat, ingat, and God bless!

Post Author: Scott Fortune (55 Posts)

At the time of this writing, I am 42 years old. I’ve been married to my Filipina wife since December 2009. She is from the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. I’ve worked in many fields throughout my short career, mostly in Architecture, computers, and law enforcement. I’m medically retired from the U.S. Government due to a back injury and look forward to our move to the Philippines. My interests here were yard work, guns, and hanging out with friends. But because of my back injury, I’ve had to shorten what I can do to just hanging out with friends. Not a bad thing when you’re retired, right!? Also, I’m sure I’ll find some new interests when I get to the RP. We don’t yet know where we will be moving to exactly, but I expect it to be on the main island of Luzon. I look forward to moving there, getting healthier, and experiencing island life.


Comments

  1. Jay McDowall says

    So you forgot the sugar and hot dog in the sauce. Well just joking, I bet it was good, it seems now I only eat Filipino style spaghetti now. In fact had some chicken joy and spaghetti at the Jolibee in Honolulu. I am glad you doing okay in the Philippines.

    • ScottF says

      Sugar I’ve seen, hot dog doesn’t surprise me!!! I’ve heard stories of hot dog in EVERYTHING. Heck, I had it with fried rice when I was there. It wasn’t bad. But, why are all their hot dogs red or pink? Why to food coloring, to hide the VERY odd pieces that didn’t get ground down fine enough? I’m not naive so much to think that they are made from prime cuts, but the coloring doesn’t appeal to me for some reason. I am going to miss Koegel’s hot dogs in natural casings. But, as Gary said, I’m not supposed to have them anyway!! :)

  2. Gary Wigle says

    I like spaghetti but what I hate is watching people cut the pasta into little bits and eat it with a spoon… Just something wrong about that… Hot dogs in the sauce??? Sure, if you could find a good hot dog here in the Philippines… The Hebrew brand of hot dogs are great but have yet to see them here… Besides, my doctor doesn’t want me to eat pasta… If it tastes good then I am not allowed to have it… :-(

    • Scott Fortune says

      Gary, I agree!!! if you’re using the spaghetti noodle, then it has to be eaten long!!! Spin it on that fork and get you a mouth full!! Have you had Koegel brand hot dogs in natural casings? DELICIOUS! Gonna miss those! I usually buy them 1 or 2 times a year here in the U.S. But, as you say, I shouldn’t eat them at all. :) I’ll find something in the Philippines that is good for me. Kangkong is AWESOME! And it’s good for you!

  3. Lenny says

    I’m Italian, and I cook up a killer plate of Spaghetti..I get that Molinara crushed tomatoes here… I make my own Italian Sausage to go along with it….My wife doesn’t like it….End of story…………….

    • Scott Fortune says

      Come and listen to story about a man named Scott… Seriously, my family and I were raised, initially on homemade sauce. That hard worked for my mother stopped when her boyfriend made spaghetti for us one night for dinner and we loved it. Ragu from a jar. Man, were we stupid! So, she never made homemade sauce again. It wasn’t until many years later that I tried my hand at it. I started with jarred sauce(Prego) and added my own spices. A couple of years ago I made my own from scratch for the first time. I used to get my homemade spaghetti dinners from my friends wife. She’s full-blood Italian and will have nothing but homemade at her table. SO, I’ve prepared anf tried various creations of the sauce and have what I feel is a winner. As an Italian, you’ll understand the importance of what I am about to say… I challenged my full-blood Italian friends wife to a spaghetti cook-off!!! She was insulted. Never the less, it is scheduled tentatively for sometime this month. She has yet to set a date! October is Chili cook-off!!

      • Papa Duck says

        Scott,
        Glad everything worked out fine for your party. I always make sure there is more than enough food so no one leaves the table hungry. When i make spaghetti sauce i start with Paul Newman Marinara sauce in a jar. I chop up fresh Roma tomatoes, onions, green bell peppers and add to the marinara sauce. I then season with italian seasoning, oregano, minced garlic, rosemary and pepper. Cook until all veggies are done. Cook whole wheat thin spaghetti. Put extra virgin olive oil on noodles before putting sauce on. Add parmesean cheese on top. Service with hot italian bread baked with olive oil brushed on. Trying to eat healthy so took the ground beef out of the sauce. Good seasoning makes up for the no ground beef. Take care and looking forward to your next article.

        • Scott Fortune says

          Sounds good. I buy a leaner cut of ground beef, and use that. That way I can think it is better for me. :) I can eat it Maranara style, but prefer meat sauce.

          We both sound like me ensure our guests are well fed and happy.

  4. Donna West says

    It sounds like you are having fun and adjusting well to your new life there in the RP. Wish I could have tried the spagetti and hot dog bun garlic bread.

  5. maria says

    hi scott
    guess whats for dinner tonight? BACON spaghetti, never thought of it till i saw rachel ray make it. its smelling so good, YUM, cant wait to have it for supper then cold left over spaghetti for two or three days.

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