a book about pigs, pork & ham


pig perfect (2005) by self-described “hamthropologist” peter kaminsky is about his search for the perfect ham & grilled pork / it is informative, entertaining & makes you want to search for the perfect ham & grilled pork yourself!

some time back, we were told to stay away from pork & we all ate chicken \ then the pork industry fought back by marketing it as “the other white meat” / i’m good with that \ reading this book, i intensely miss the filipino ways of cooking pork – transforming the entire or various parts of the pig into the best it can be / among them:  inihaw na liempo <grilled pork belly marinated in crushed garlic, vinegar, salt & pepper>,  crispy pata <deep fried hocks>, paksiw na pata <hocks or shank simmered in vinegar & soy sauce with banana blossoms>, lechon <roasted whole pig, preferably suckling pig>, lechon kawali <crispy deep fried pork, since you can’t always be roasting an entire pig>, sisig <pork ears, jowls & liver that is boiled-broiled-grilled, served chopped & marinated in lemon juice or vinegar, seasoned with salt, pepper & sili > & the most “heart-attack-waiting-to-happen” of them all, chicharon bulaklak or bituka <you probably don’t want to know what it is but it is awesome> \ the last two are usually eaten as pulutan <finger food eaten with beer or any liquor; pulut means “to pick up”>

in the philippines, we mostly eat our pork fresh \ we do not have a strong ham tradition though one of the main topics of the book is about iberico ham from spain / because the philippines was a spanish colony for three centuries, our cuisine among other things in philippine culture is heavily spanish influenced / but an iberico ham legacy is not one of them \ supposedly iberico ham is the best ham because it is made from the iberico pig <black pigs in picture> / the best are fed only acorns which they gather themselves since they are free ranging or allowed to ran wild \ and because they are not ruminants <i.e., they do not digest what they eat twice like cows & sheep do>, the acorns or peanuts that they eat deposit in them as soft fat \ they do not become hydrogenated <get hard like butter> /and so the iberico pigs’ fat and meat keep the flavor of what they were fed

the book is a must-read for barbecue ribs lovers / as it has recipes and places to get the best ribs in the u.s. \ as for me, i would love to taste iberico pork & will make sure i have a full experience of it when i visit spain

my favorite curmudgeon suggested this book / i found it as a bargain book at amazon & started reading it when i was in seattle last june


a book about paris in the 1920s by ernest hemingway

moveable feast hemingway1

a moveable feast (1964) by ernest hemingway was published three years after his death / the book is a product of literary possessions he had stored in 1928 at the ritz hotel in paris which the hotel’s management convinced him to repossess in 1956 \ originally called “the paris sketches,” the final title was chosen by his 4th wife, mary hemingway and inspired by what hemingway’s friend &  biographer, a.e. hotchner, recalled him saying:  “if you are lucky enough to have lived in paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for paris is a moveable feast.” 

the only other hemingway that i have read is “the old man and the sea” back in high school / i don’t know what i thought of hemingway back then \ but reading him now, i have to say that he is the kind of writer whose entire body of work i am inspired to delve into / i like his sparseness of words which despite this economy, expresses his thoughts effectively & beautifully  <“parsimonious” would be that same desirable quality in statistics> \ he has interesting things to say / this book in particular describes how, where and when he wrote & with whom he socialized during his creative period in paris

hemingway’s memoirs of the years he lived in paris as an expatriate writer in his mid-20s is fascinating & moving / poverty & living well in paris seem contradictory but that describes the lives of hemingway’s cohort <the so called “lost generation” which also included ezra pound, f. scott fitzgerald & ford madox ford among the well-known> \ i cannot help but think how sophisticated & cosmopolitan writers of his generation were, having spent their creative periods in europe during the time called the “roaring twenties” or the “jazz age” \ a period of social changes & cultural conflicts, a break from tradition towards “modernity”

and getting published then & now are so different! \ internet & digital technology has imploded content creation & changed the economics of publishing / in the future, can we expect a longer list of  literary classics to emerge from the digital generation of writers? \ what is the impact of the digital revolution in the literary world? / better, worse or same quality of writing?

this book is a serendipitous discovery and i am inspired to do a hemingway reading project \ i have 6 other novels,  1 other non-fiction & 6 short story collections to choose from

illustration friday | metamorphosis

unearthly kurt1

“unearthly kurt” performing where did you sleep last night | digital


thursdays @market square


we only have a few weeks left to enjoy the farmers’ market at market square / every thursday, we are treated to acoustic music, beautiful bouquets of flowers, herbs, organic vegetables & fruits \ comfort food such as homemade pies, cookies, jams & jellies / smoked salmon, cheeses, pierogies and our favorite – greek food! / and so it was yesterday, my favorite analysts & i had our fix of stuffed eggplant, moussaka, buffalo chicken pasta & baklava

buyer beware! | guest travelpost from alaska


my favorite curmudgeon is a sophisticated world traveler \ wine & beer connoisseur / finder of unusual things \ intolerant of mushrooms / & hasn’t eaten hot dogs in 29 years \ currently vacationing in alaska, MFC obliged to my request for a guest travelpost


Driving north from Anchorage to Denali National Park is over 200 miles of mostly wilderness.

The scenery can get hypnotic.

After about 188 miles, in the middle of nowhere, in a clearing on the side of road a sign appears.

Take a moment to imagine a 4 story concrete igloo.   Did you imagine boarded up windows, graffiti and peeling paint?  If not, here’s some pictures to help you next time someone asks you to imagine a dilapidated 4 story igloo in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

Based on 5 minutes of internet research:  The igloo was built as a hotel in the 70’s and was abandoned before it was ever occupied due to code violations (windows too small).  It’s currently for sale ($300,000).

Check out this article for more pictures:

journey to the back of my eyeballs

pghrower eyeballs

my very cool optometrist <dr. zarky> today took back end pictures of my eyes / i’ve been wearing eyeglasses since 4th grade & so i’ve seen improvements & advances in eye technology such as advanced materials (thin lenses, flexible this & that, etc.), specialty eyeglasses, contact lenses (hard, soft, permeable, disposable, colored, etc.) as well as more permanent solutions such as lasik surgery \ i’m sure there are much more that i don’t know about / i’m very mainstream when it comes to what i put or use for my eyes

then there are the advancements in imaging technology such as digital retinal photography <my favorite curmudgeon had told me about dr. z’s new tech> another new toy that my very cool optometrist used on me was an imaging tool that provides a baseline measurement of my eyes’ focal length / he followed up with the traditional test \ the one that goes “which is clearer? this or this? 1 or 2?” / i’ve often wondered if patients answer these questions honestly depending on how they want the results to go \ and i’ve also wondered while sitting in the chair if optometrists can tell if their patients are fibbing & how they can guard against “gaming” the test / does it sound like i have done so? :-) <no, i have not, dr. zarky, and i think fibbers won’t escape you>

an interesting thing i learned on my visit to dr. zarky is about cataracts / i remember my 90 year old grandfather & other elderly relatives who had cataracts <katarata in tagalog> \ & so i’ve always associated it with the aged / indeed it is an affliction of old people but nowadays, dr. zarky has seen cataracts in people in their 50s or 60s \ it is worrisome that some diseases | illnesses | medical conditions are happening at younger ages / recent sad events with family members, relatives, friends & friends of friends seem to reflect this disturbing trend \ we’ve learned & talked a lot about the impact of genetics on diseases & medical conditions / early onset of certain medical conditions that are age related makes one wonder how much our modern lifestyle & environment have contributed to this phenomenon

can’t wait for fall


“can’t wait for fall” by IAD | watercolor

autumn is the favorite season of my favorite young artists \ & inspires a painting of happy anticipation in one of them / especially september when the trees start to change color & the air is cool & crisp \ this is one of the delights of having the four seasons in the eastern united states/ but to me this brief window of time is a teaser, just an interlude to grey cold late fall & winter \ of leafless trees & matchstick landscapes & short days & infrequent sunny skies / it does not look so delightful then \ i of course favor summer & spring / so it’s good balance in our household that they like the other two seasons


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