Tortilleta and Anak ng Tinapa!

This is me, cursing the rains - even when I appreciate it rescuing my Christmas tree from turning into a burning bush (its a Cypress that only grew so high).

I am cursing the flooding it brought on.   Just because I live in a flood prone area and so should be used to rain boots and dustpan (for baling water out the door) as fashion accessory doesn’t mean I have to like it.  Move? We would, if we could afford it.  Ditto with bulldozing the house and building a new one on concrete stilts.  On the other hand, typhoon season only takes up half the year and it’s not as if our house and neighborhood has nothing else going for it. 

It floods in our area, as I have mentioned before, when rain falls steadily and high tide is up.  (Used to be) flood levels are mere inches or a foot high.  There’s discomfort going out in it and commuting’s a b---h  (then again, it always is, since jeepneys  traverse one long arterial road and originate from worse off places where flooding is extreme - head high and lasts so long algae have had time to grow three generations, if not spawn a mutant specie altogether.

Jeepneys can swim...err...navigate through floodwaters ok enough but there’s nowhere near enough plying the route in typhoon season.  Jeepneys are like the middle fish in the hierarchy of modes of transportation.  The little fish a.ka. Pedicabs (man pedaled bike and half-metal cage/half moving tent with vinyl seats) and tricycles (motor driven bikes) take everyone out of villages and inner roads to jeepney pick up points on the arterial ones.  The jeepneys then unload at the main highway so big fishy bus can pick up and disgorge people all along EDSA.

Mostly, human failing do us in more than the rains.  For a time water lilies were a problem too (like in Cotabato now) except there was constant riverbed dredging during the Marcos years and the lilies could flow out to open water.  Flooding happens but nowhere near epic Ondoy proportions (my area at least) or as often.  There were all sorts of flood control talks and projects and JICA funding (hmmm).  Past Prez Joseph Estrada signed for such a project but that too, fell on the wayside (because he was deposed?)  We could only speculate whatever  happened to this and that and live with stagnant water, ineffectual and substandard dikes, try not to use the bathroom for days and let children miss half the term and half their summer vacation making up for lost school days. Human failings are our misfortune.  We are wallowing in the depths that greed, political envy, disdain for other people’s brainchild, and plain thievery threw us in.  Sink or swim.  Or live in houseboats and make like the Cape, Sausalito and Seattle hehehe.

So it is that we celebrated our town fiesta and Father’s Day wading indoors in rain boots. Flooding is inevitable since there’s a rain and high tide combo predicted.  We’ve brought some stuff up to the second floor (like the nice television etc) as early as May.  My dad is glued to weather reports at the drop of  “tropical depression” and "low pressure"; news channel surfing commences.

Morning of the fiesta, Mom started the makings of our garlic chicken (marinating) and pansit bihon  (noodles) celebratory lunch . I made chocolate cake, banana cake and earthquake brownie (you can see why ). We were both racing against encroaching water! I couldn't take pictures, natch, so the ones on here were taken Tuesday - unadorned, mini versions of the cakes we had Sunday. My puso ng saging (heart shaped banana cake)  is cute right? hehehe

Also made tortilla filling of beef and pinto beans (love the speckles! Reminded me of the story of The Speckled Band in my old Sherlock Holmes book.  It’s how I imagined it would look, the “band” which is actually a killer  sss... (read the book or online for the rest hehehe!).

It takes a long while to soften (boil in lots of water).  I sautéed the pintos with ground beef, heavy on the garlic and flavored with slices of Chinese chorizo
( filched from mom, who uses it in pansit bihon) Knorr beef cube, lots of cumin, chili powder, a few tablespoon of tomato sauce to moisten, salt and pepper to taste.

Then I ground the lot up in my Cuisinart Elite Collection Die-Cast Chopper/Grinder! Tita E sent it to me, along with the beans.  I still had left over sour cream and chives powder (remember the baked potato?) that I cooked in sour cream – the lemon juice and Alaska All Purpose Cream kind.
I was trying to make a white sauce similar to Mexicali’s or Mr. Kabab. I say similar, because theirs are made of yogurt or cream cheese or even mayo.  To cut through the heavy bean and the “mush” factor of the filling (though I ground the last cupful of beans and beef a lot less finely so there's still a bit of texture), I added tomato salsa. I chopped it in the Cuisinart and froze it the night before. I was improvising. 

I made tortillas, as planned!  I didn’t follow the proportions exactly, just cut in the shortening by feel.  They came out nicely - soft and yummy!  The dough bubbled and puffed up and browned as it cooked (in the crepe pan, I have a small T-fal with the Eiffel Tower and a crepe batter recipe printed on the bottom – cool stuff!). I didn’t get all prissy about shape and size though hehehe. These uncooked ones are oval and a longer wrap around.

At midday Sunday the “puddling” began.  Floodwater was finding its way through a sieve of cracks in the cement floor and under doors. By lunchtime, the water is boot top (mid leg) high.  My brother’s family came in rain gear and slippers (the twins are happy to go wading) and we ate with our feet in the water (thankfully still clear, leptospirosis free) and pretended we are at Villa Escudero lunching by the waterfall.  Rainy weather makes you eat more (sigh).  We went through the garlic chicken et al in a jiff. My sister in law and the twins were happy with my makeshift burrito!

The cooked tortilla with the pile of bean, beef and chunky salsa here is from a new batch I made for Tuesday dinner. I had loads of filling leftover from Sunday because I cooked half a pack of pinto (a bit of tongue twister for you) – didn’t realize it would “grind and multiply” that much (guffaw).  Covered with cling wrap it kept real well in the fridge.  The white dollop is the sour cream and chive sauce and the red one is Jufran Red Hot Chili sauce (yum! Super hot! Love!).  The lemon slice pretties up the lot, don’t it?

By nightfall, the floodwater inside the house was mid thigh. It was amateur night (the height of a Pinoy fiesta is the singing competition) and 6Cycle Mind is performing but we didn’t get to watch since Typhoon Egay is still lashing about and a dike broke.   It was time to settle in the little doggies upstairs (earlier they were high and dry on the bottom step).  We brought up the airpot, coffee things and junk food and retired to our rooms.  I stayed up watching Playful Kiss episodes on – with English subs.  I am glad I had eight episodes to go through else I wouldn’t survive being cooped up till Tuesday morning, when the floodwater finally went down to a tolerable inch - 3 inch wedge slip ons a relief from heavy rubber boots.

p.s. Tortilleta is a pun on the Spanish curse that means little knife – that we Pinoys use to express displeasure and anger.  Also, because I made small sized tortillas hehehe.

Anak ng tinapa is a Tagalog and sanitized version of the Spanish ijo de p—a or English s.o.b.  The phrase loosely translates to son of a smoked fish.  You could also say anak ng tupa meaning son of a sheep – you can figure out how this came to be – or anak ng tipaklong (grasshopper, which, other than it starts with the letter “T” as well, does not compute).  I use anak ng tinapa.  The maligned fish is today’s din din – fried  tinapa dipped in sour calamansi (Philippine lemon) with a bit of rock salt and siling labuyo (finger chili).  Eating with your hands recommended.
Also garlic fried rice and Coke go-withs  : )  
Seriously, can anyone design a house of steel frames, on concrete stilts and walls, with floors and roof reinforced, with water lily  as material?  Hmmm.


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