Tinola in my mind

Mhaan's Tinola masterpiece

When I was a kid growing up, tinola was always served in the weekends. If its not it, some dish with a good, hearty ‘sabaw’ – Our nanay believes this makes children grow stronger and wise (I’m not sure where she got this) whenever such treats is served, sabaw abounds.

This is the highlight of our  weekends, mga luto ng Nanay. Nothing beats a good meal with your bully brothers! Being the youngest, my brother’s would take advantage, they would always get the chunky parts while I, gets the small portions, worst, the neck part!

When I was in high school I read about tinola in the Noli, I became more fascinated about this very Filipino dish. Rizal was obviously drooling over it while he was writing the chapter about Tiago’s famous diner party. Poor hero. Here’s how the mighty tinola played its part in Rizal’s masterpiece.

Capitan Tiago ordered tinola served. It was a dish which Ibarra had not eaten in a long time because of his extended stay in Europe. Tinola contains chicken, white squash and broth.

Table conversation covered where Ibarra went (Northern Europe, Germany and Russian Poland), as well as newsworthy items learned by Ibarra: “…the prosperity or the misery of a people is in direct proportion to its liberties or concerns, and consequently to the sacrifices or selfishness of its ancestors.”

Padre Damaso belittled Ibarra’s trips abroad saying that these were useless because what Ibarra learned could be also known without having to travel extensively.

Instead of arguing with the friar, Ibarra left after graciously excusing himself from the crowd. Capitan Tiago tried to stop him, saying that Maria Clara was coming soon, but Ibarra still left. Teniente Guevara followed him.

One of the guests (a red-haired writer named Laruja) present will later write an article about how tinola can ruin a feast and why indios should not be allowed to read or travel outside the Philippines.

Pepe can’t help but mention that his character in the book, like him, has not tasted this dish because of his faraway travels in Europe. When your far, I guess your reminded how good Filipino cuisine is. Good thing nowadays, Filipino restaurants and groceries are everywhere.

It an old Spanish recipe (some say its Malay but I doubt it), adopted by us. This chicken stew have different versions. Depending on where you are, taste and ingredients used varies. I prefer ‘malunggay’ over the ‘dahong sili’, the ‘chayote’ than ‘papaya’. Some versions includes chicken livers, but that I don’t like.

Its not easy to define how it taste, gingery? Maybe.

Last week, marks a breakthrough. Mhaan cooked, tinola! In my standards, I gave it an A rating. It was almost perfect! At least for me. But being a big fan of this dish, I have good credentials to critique it! I wonder how Rizal prefers his tinola.


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