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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

entry arrow7:54 AM | Hungry for Food Mixed With a Little Fiction

I can't wait to get my hands on my copy of this...

My story "Pedro and the Chickens of Dumaguet" is in it. (It has since been retitled "A Tragedy of Chickens.") I wrote the story in a rush for editor and writer Cecilia Manguerra Brainard. I had already finished half of a story titled "Kitchen" for the anthology ... when something clicked in my head. I went searching for Ma'am Cecilia's original email inviting me to submit something for the anthology. In it, she said she was looking for "lighthearted" fiction: "Can you look at your short stories to see if there's something light, funny, and short, that's connected with food?"

Light, funny, and short.

God. But "Kitchen" was already too long, too sad, and too heavy. I immediately shifted gears, saved the story in my "Raw Fiction" file, and proceeded to start anew, this time telling myself that if I had to write a new story within 24 hours (the deadline given was the following day), I had to write about my favorite Dumaguete fare: Jo's chicken inato. And it had to be light, kinda funny, and short. That's the genesis of my story.

Also in the new anthology: Dean Alfar's "Sabados con Fray Villalobos" and Mia Gonzalez's "Bread" (which I recommended for inclusion to Ma'am Cecilia.) The wonderful Janet Villa also has a story in it, but I don't know what the title is. The other contributors are everybody's idols... Carlos Cortés, Jose Dalisay Jr., Veronica Montes, Oscar Peñaranda, Brian Ascalon Roley, Joël Barraquiel Tan, Linda Ty-Casper, Alfred Yuson, and others.

(The book launching is on February 12, from 5:30-7:30 pm at the 2nd Floor of The Lounge, in front of National Bookstore Bestseller-Podium, 18 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City. Dean says he will be where the food is, hehehe. Me, I'm still making up my mind whether to go or not. I want to go.)

The mix of food and fiction always fascinates. Ernesto Yee says as much in his testimonial for Mom Edith yesterday: "After her critique [of Ernie's story], she shared with me the delightful comfort of her food. Eating with Mom, even today, is always one glorious feast. It is one fond memory that you can take home with you and share with your family, your circle of friends. This must be the reason why, when in Manila, my usual conversation with my dearest Susan [Lara], Marj {Evasco] and D.M. [Reyes] is always about Mom's dinner table. We all tremble with youthful anticipation and excitement at the mention of binakut -- soup of shredded chicken, shrimps, crab, sweet corn and sprinkling of horse radish commonly known as kalamunggay, and the ground meat wrapped in gabi leaves cooked in coconut milk. And of course, the dinugoan, I jokingly refer to as Count Dracula's favorite pudding, that goes with Mom's golden letchon. All prepared under her strict instruction and supervision! The sweet smell of pork and the steaming, crackling yet succulent skin tempt lasciviously our senses. Sight and smell collide. Our tongues are beginning to water. We crave for food. We start missing our Mom, our shared longing."

Which Rowena [Tiempo-Torrevillas], from Iowa, takes notes of in her email to me: "It's amazing that the binakut that Ernie uses as his central image is exactly the same comfort food from Mom's table that I wrote about in Erlinda Panlilio's collection, Comfort Food. My description of Mom's binakut is on pages 15-16 of the book, and includes this thought: 'Filipino writers, all siblings adopted into my ever-enlarging family of writers, have eaten binakut from my mother's table."

That said, get copies of both books. They will make you, umm, hungry.

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