Monday, June 20, 2011

Rizal's Tinola: Musings on GMA News TV's Piging Para Kay Pepe (Ika-150 Kaarawan ni Rizal)

If Rizal were alive today, I believe with all my heart, that aside from writing books, he will most definitely be maintaining a food blog considering all the dishes chronicled in his writings.

                     Rizal's oil portrait ( 1883) by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo

Imagine my elation, when last night, I came across GMA Channel 7's PIGING PARA KAY PEPE, a fresh take on our national hero's extraordinary life by focusing on a whole spectrum of dishes featured in his published works and personal letters. This first-ever food documentary was hip and the whole dynamics presented by the feature were both clever and current. Award-winning actor Cesar Montano hosted the show which provided another dimension of credibility, considering his timeless, almost flawless portrayal of our national hero in the movie Rizal, produced by GMA Films.

A number of experts were interviewed to expound on the dishes' role in the hero's life, in his immediate family and circle of friends' as well as the dishes' significance in  the Filipinos' fight against tyrannical Spain. What's more, a number of gifted cooks were also there to bring life to the original dishes by authentically choosing similar ingredients and replicating the manner in which they were cooked.

Here's the feature's flavorful teaser.  

This special was directed by Rico Gutierrez and produced by GMA News and Public Affairs. I truly hope that they will come out with a DVD pretty soon so that more people will get a taste of this deliciously crafted TV documentary.

Looking back, one of the dishes that really caught my attention was the way the tinola was cooked. While watching, Bala asked me what was the orange stuff on top. I told him, kalabasa (squash). I can't help but cringe at the thought of including squash in the dish. All this time, I was taught to put in either papaya or sayote, but not squash. For sure, it will disintegrate, especially if it is too ripe, and may even find itself mashed in the process. 

Being a self-confessed foodie, I can't help but find out for myself if Rizal's tinola really featured the controversial kalabasa. I reached for my dad's copy of the Social Cancer, the English version of Rizal's Noli Me Tangere, where the tinola dish was mentioned in the first place.

Somewhere in The Dinner chapter, Don Santiago de los Santos, fondly known as Capitan Tiago gave a dinner on the last of October. He served Chicken Tinola and during serving, the novel's antagonist, Padre Damaso, received the neck part which was deemed the most important part of the chicken and was reserved only for the guest of honor. One of the experts featured in the TV show mentioned that the priest took this as an insult.

Reading on, I found what I've been looking for--squash was mentioned at last.

It's funny that I have learned so much about Rizal just by focusing on the way tinola was cooked during his time. It's really true that if you want to know more about a person, you have to learn about his unique palate and what he puts on his plate. I guess, I need to cook my next Tinola ala Rizal to somehow get a partial understanding of what he was really like. 

Next: Stay tuned for my Musings on Che-che Lazaro Presents Ang Tunay na Pag-Ibig ni Lolo Jose

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  1. i never thought the primordial tinola includes kalabasa? so that should make the soup a bit thicker(malapot) than usual.

  2. hi cafemobility!yeah I know. I was surprised myself. you're's certainly much thicker, just like what happens in pinakbet when the squash is mashed whether intentionally or not. judging from it, their tinola is definitely much sweeter...

  3. interesting. maybe they didn't have a name for the chayote? chayote is from a squash family, no? :)

  4. You're right Rolandito. Magkamag-anak silang dalawa. hihihihi.Now that you mention it, if you look closely at the GMA 7 version of the dish, there's also sayote there. Hindi kasi masyadong nadudurog ang sayote kapag niluluto. Yung papaya naman, mas sweet pero ang hirap tanggalin nung nasa gitna kaya matigas pag naluto....nagugutom tuloy ako...

  5. Hi Kaye! Kalabasa in tinola? It'll make the tinola sweet for sure. It's interesting how we Pinoys have such a rich culture. Up north, in the Ilocos Region, we prefer to put malunggay or ampalaya leaves in our tinola.

  6. Hi Kaye!

    A very interesting post! Not only it gives us a sneak peek of an original Filipino dish but a brief travel back to our history!

  7. Nice blog!
    new follower here! Hope you check out my blog,
    if you like it follow me back..hihi..

    Thank you

  8. hi Aubrey!that's interesting! I never knew that!Can't wait to taste it!

  9. hi Krizza!Thanks so much for the visit and kind words.Take care there!

  10. Hi Diane CMP!Thanks for the visit. Will follow you back...

  11. You're right Rolandito. Magkamag-anak silang dalawa. hihihihi.Now that you mention it, if you look closely at the GMA 7 version of the dish, there's also sayote there. Hindi kasi masyadong nadudurog ang sayote kapag niluluto. Yung papaya naman, mas sweet pero ang hirap tanggalin nung nasa gitna kaya matigas pag naluto....nagugutom tuloy ako...

  12. Hi! 'Piging para kay Pepe' is now available on DVD. Thanks again for writing about our humble food documentary. :-) -- augie rivera

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