There were two genuine time travel moments today.Without leaving Massachusetts, I was transported to the Philippines. Tonight in the darkened Westwood High School auditorium, I sat and listened to the Iskwelahang Pilipino Rondalla. Part one of their program were classic Filipino songs that I sang while in the UP Concert Chorus. I couldn’t tell that I was in America. They were flawless and authentic.
The second experience was biting into my very first piece of homemade buko pie. Buko means “young coconut”, and is the soft white meat of a green coconut.
I found a recipe in a Nora Daza cookbook.
I went hunting for the key ingredient. We found green coconuts at a Latino market (as well as longaniza from the Dominican Republic) which we will try tomorrow.
Then, we found young coconut meat on the Asian shelf in the regular supermarket. It was from Thailand. I decided to try out the canned coconut meat.
First I rinsed it well. Then I cut it into slivers with two knives. So far, so good.
Here is the recipe, I will see you on the other side of it.
1/2 cup coconut water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup corn starch
two good pie crusts (make them or buy them)
Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Nora Daza’s recipe says to combine all the ingredients (except the pie crusts, obviously) and cook them until thickened. Then pour into the crust, top and seal, bake.
I started to stir the filling on the stove top,but the combination of sugar and cornstarch made it too easy to scorch. So I opted for a double boiler (we have Bud’s grandmother Bell’s double boiler). I was thankful to Nana Beulah for it!! It saved the pie filling!
I stirred the filling in the double boiler until it began to thicken gently, like pudding. Then I poured it carefully into the pie crust, and covered it with the other crust. I covered the edges with foil (because 400 degrees is hot)!
Into the 400 degree oven it went for 30 minutes.
Afterwards, it was set down on a counter to cool, until we returned from the concert.
I came home and set myself up for a bite.
I was transported.
I am in Laguna, it is a long breezy drive south of Manila in the 1970s. This is time travel. We are all young martial law is in effect in the Philippines. We have big dreams, but no way to implement them. We have just this morning, this long highway, this camaraderie with two doctors, one Spanish professor, a famous journalist named Louie Beltran . We are a band for a moment in time.
People Power was ten years away. I wouldn’t be there to see it, but Louie Beltran would cover it for the free world. My sister would run into Louie in San Francisco, and he would call out, “Burkhalter!” Then soon after that I would see his obituary.
Everything is full of layers. Everything has stories. At this time in my life, it seems that food is talking to me, reminding me of old friends and wonderful days. I am thankful.