papa osmubal
(fragments from Andrew Zimmern’s ‘Bizarre Foods in Jamaica’)
Jamaica is a footprint
roughly the size of Connecticut.

An island nation of many faces
and one distinct culture

Of sun, sand,
rhum and reggae—

The very shared identity
that unifies and uplifts Jamaicans.

You can hear it in their music
and you taste it in their food.

When I think of Jamaica,
Jerk chicken comes to mind.

When I get off the airplane,
Jerk chicken is first on my list.

People come to Jamaica to listen
to reggae music and eat jerk chicken.

The grill house is sweltering smoking
underworld that smells like heaven.

Curry goat has distinct
Indian root— rich with flavor,
and dripping with history.

The chef puts experience
and love in the curry goat,
and Scotch bonney peppers.

Food with a story
makes it taste better—

Here the painstaking process to produce
some of the world’s best coffee

Will make you worship the bean
in a whole new way.

In every meal,
on every plate

Is the sun,
the sea,

The music
and the history.
(fragments from Andrew Zimmern’s ‘Bizarre Foods in Sicily, Italy’)
This is Sicily, a magical kingdom by the sea,
where people would eat anything,
where everyone is born a food expert.

At the meat stalls, cow stomachs
are sold fresh you can still hear the ‘moo’.

Quarume, a soup from cow’s organs,
is sold in little-hole-in-the-wall eateries.

In a little tiny plate of Quarume
you have the tripe, you have the stomach,

You have little cut pieces of the intestines—
the Holy Trinity of innards.

Porto Cabone Restaurant sells
just one thing— cow spleen sandwich.

It tastes like river mud, foul, greasy,
not for the faint of heart, and I love it.

Here people are Sicilian first
and Italian second.

And to be Sicilian is to be
passionate about food.

Here a chef really knows his way
around the cow’s mouth.

The Capanata is a relish of eggplant
peppers, mixing sour flavors with sweet,

Salty with nice acidic backbone!
Oh, Madonna, it’s fantastico!

The artichoke is the hero
in little town of Cerda.

They built a statue of it.
It is even in the ice cream.

Meeting Eleanora Consoli,
the genial child of Sicilian cooking.

Her books are the bibles
of Sicilian cuisine.

Cooking with her is like playing
baseball with Lue Gehrig.

Today Eleonora will cook
‘coniglio al cioccolato’—

A classic Sicilian dish
of rabbit stewed in chocolate.

To skin the rabbit Eleonora calls in
her neighbor Graziella—

The local rabbit skinning wizard,
and in just a matter of minutes

The rabbit is ready for cooking, everything,
including the head with front teeth attached.

Next I will go fishing,
and meeting my lunch
face to face.

It comes from the ocean
to the grill, and nothing
will ever see the refrigerator.

We find the same story
throughout Sicily— simple food
tasting fabulous, prepared by people
who’ve been doing it for generations,
using ingredients that taste
like the land and the sea.
(fragments from Andrew Zimmern’s ‘Bizarre Foods in Tokyo, Japan’)
Tokyo people revere tradition,
and worship the transeunt.

Japan prizes stillness, contemplation,
and the most delicate aspects of nature,

With a passion for whatever
is fast, flashy, and new.

It is going to extremes, from a mayonnaise milkshake
to a reptile blood cocktail,

From tuna eyeballs
to raw goat testicles—

There is no place like Japan
for experiencing food as fine art.

Tokyo is home to the world’s fish market—
a whole squadron of traffic cops choreographs

The thousands of carts, scooters, buyers
and sellers coming in and out of this place.

Kujiki employs 60,000 workers and handles
tons of fish and seafood everyday.

The stonefish is one fish
I have only seen in pictures.

If a stinger penetrates you deeply,
you're off to meet your maker.

A hundred and fifty dollars a pound—
not bad for something that could kill you.

Tokyo is culturally adventurous.
You can see it in the architecture,
in the night life, and in the kitchen.

At Mayo-kitchi, the mayonnaise restaurant,
there is mayonnaise in every dish—
mayonnaise fondue, milk shake mayonnaise.

I am not so sure if there is a mayonnaise
restaurant coming to the mall near you.
If there is, run away, very very quickly.

The Japanese penchant
for taking food
to extremes can lead
to the deliberately ridiculous.

But also to the sublime.
Like the octopus eggs,
sea cucumber jerky,
and sake with turtle blood.

A salted fish, fermented with rice
for 5 years, costs 50 dollars.

The Japanese emperor came here
to buy fermented fish last year.

One of the foulest things I’ve ever eaten,
its stink could peel paint off the wall.
(fragments from Andrew Zimmern’s ‘Bizarre Foods in Hawaii’)
American and Asian cultures
wash ashore to mix
with Pacific island traditions—

You see it among families,
and you can taste it in the food.

Poi, an Hawaiian dish, looks
like wallpaper paste.

It is from taro plant, where
Hawaiians believe their
first ancestors sprang from.

Poi is the stuff of life,
smells like wallpaper paste,
like Elmer’s glue.

In Hawaii, don’t eat
till you’re full,
eat till you’re tired.

He’e, octopus and taro leaves
stewed in coconut milk,
is an amazing dish.

You can taste the love in it
from a thousand miles away.

After a meal, a hula dance.
Every move represents an emotion,
specific plants and animals.

The whole body should speak.
I am so full, and I am so tired.
I lost my shoes and I don’t even care.

There is more Spam
per capita eaten
in Hawaii than anywhere
else in the world.

Eating Spam is eating
factory leftover meats
that have simply sat
too long on a shelf.

I am not a Spam guy.

Local diners, laughing at me
from five feet away, can’t
understand what my problem is.

At Haleakala, the house of the sun,
I will be joining a hunting expedition

In a huge track of forest land.
Doug Chong, a local, owns it.

Our hunting party includes Doug,
his dogs, nephews, and a few friends.

Doug has been hunting for 50 years,
But the dogs do most of the real work.

In what Maui locals call ‘upcountry’,
at first glance there
is nothing edible in sight.

Here we don’t just stop
and smell the flowers;
we stop and eat them.

Molakai has resisted the tide
of new development.

By law, no building can be taller
than a palm tree.

There are whales swimming
in the channel between Molakai
and the island of Lanai.

The locals call this waters
‘whales soup’.
(fragments from Andrew Zimmern’s ‘Bizarre Foods in Hong Kong’)
Hong Kong is one of the most
vertical cities in the world.

Beneath the towering skyscrapers,
amid the hustle and bustle of modern life,

A food culture transports you
to the Old World,

With low-tech food made
the old-fashioned way,

Using family recipes
and two hands.

One Cantonese food genre is dim sum—
‘point what your heart desires’.

Served from a rolling cart, no need
to know a lick of Cantonese.

Some customers even chase
the trolley ladies down,

And lift the lids all on themselves.
It is just fun to pick out what you want.

Hong Kong means fragrance—
from smell of spices once traded here.

Perfect food in Hong Kong isn’t just found
in fancy restaurants, it’s tucked
in the back corners and spills out
of unassuming stalls all over the city.

To find them?
Just follow your nose.
—Posted 12:01 PM 3/1/16 by eK! | Post Your Comment!

About the author. Papa Osmubal is Oscar Balajadia of Magalang (Well, don't get fooled by that name), now a Macau resident (Sorry, where?) and married to a Chinese local (How? How come? Why?). He has been a Catholic seminarian (OK, he once opened a book at an exam in Latin and Romance Languages—but who in frigging hell did not?), a Catholic missionary (Oh, the rosary is the answer to our country's economic problems and to your alcoholism and addiction to nicotine!), a bookstore staffer (Yes, sir, listen here, we know it is urgent, so your book is on its way from Guangzhou and will be here in 8 months!), a librarian (Oh, it's Friday the 13th and I am not putting 666 as Dewey call number on this bloody book!), and a teaching assistant (OK, pal, I know you prepared for the exams so I will check and mark them!). He is currently a teacher (yawn) and has an M.A. in English Studies (yawn even more, nod off, and then snore) from the University of Macau (sorry again, where?).
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