Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It Started With A Chair

Yes... It Started With a Chair...

...And I ended up on the cinema floor before the movie even ended--bawling! Totally floored by Diablo Cody’s JUNO. My favorite “bowl of rice” this season! Go see it!

A message to Ms Cody:
Yo! Adlib Doc (anagram for Diablo Cody)
Congratulations! Now you've got "a blog, a (stripper) pole, a hit" = anagram: "a labia & leg photo" (a reference to that gorgeous pic of yours in stripper outfit--y'all know what I'm talking about , right? )

Anyway, just thrilled to pieces about your golden moment. Kudos!
-ER (hopeless anagramist --is that even a word?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Not My Bowl Of Rice- the Idiom

Recently, I googled my invented phrase ‘Not My Bowl Of Rice’ just out of curiosity. I wanted to see if people are already using it as an idiom, a phrase, part of their daily vocabulary. To my surprise, there were several new entries, the most exciting of which was a review of singer Kylie Minogue’s CD called Fever. The review was titled ‘Not My Bowl Of Rice”. I guess Ms. Minogue’s new album wasn’t the reviewer’s cup of tea, not his bowl of rice. No matter, this article brings the phrase ‘Not My Bowl Of Rice’ to mainstream vocabulary, a source of pride for me and all Filipinos. We now have our very own phrase that’s being universally used out there.

People, who have not read my novel/cookbook with the same title, asked me how I ‘invented’ the phrase. I often refer them to the introduction of my book, which colorfully explains it. Here’s the excerpt:

“It’s not really my bowl of rice,” —Mother

“Why do you always say that? The correct thing to say is, It’s not my cup of tea!" I told Mother one day, fed-up with her made-up idiom, also irritated that she didn't think she felt like going to an air conditioned matinee on that sweltering Philippine summer afternoon.

“Oy,” she pointed out, “Look around you. Do you see any cups of tea lying around?” she asked, gesturing at our lunch table filled with wondrous Filipino dishes: pork Adobo, Lumpia, chicken barbecue and rice, lots of rice.

Reluctantly, I shook my head. No tea. The only tea I drank was Salabat, ginger tea, and only when I was sick during the cold season or as a holiday drink on Christmas morning.

“No tea, huh?” But look, bowls of rice! Bowls and bowls of rice! So I say, ‘Not my bowl of rice.” It’s better. It’s correct. Di ba?” Am I right? She announced with a triumphant grin.

How could I argue with her twisted logic after that? Rice, to us Filipinos, is more than just a staple food. It is an integral part of our culture. The rituals involved in the cycle of planting, maintaining, irrigating, harvesting and ingesting rice have enriched our lives far beyond what a single staple could ever do.

Rice – steamed, white, fragrant and mild –is the center of the Filipino meal. Everything else is eaten with it. It is a shaper of our tastes: the very salty, the very sour, the very sweet and the very spicy are especially savory when eaten against the bland background taste of rice. Filipinos simply cannot live without rice. So English idioms be damned, ‘Not my bowl of rice’ has more flavor for us Filipinos than a cup of tepid tea.

“So now you get my meaning,” Mother said, seeing my acquiescent face. “Now we can go to the movies!”

“Really?” I shrieked happily. Wow! Life is such a bowl of cherries. As long as you agree with Mother.

Here’s the book’s recipe for Chicken Adobo. It is especially savory eaten with fragrant Jasmine rice.

3 lbs chicken
3 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
8-12 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp oil

Clean chicken, rinse and wipe dry. Cut into large pieces and rub with salt and pepper. Put pieces into a deep saucepan and add bay leaves and crushed garlic. Pour on vinegar and soy sauce and marinate for an hour.

Cook over moderate heat until chicken is tender, adding a little water or stock as the liquid evaporates to keep meat moist. When chicken is cooked, turn up heat for a few minutes to dry out any remaining liquid. Pour oil into pan and fry on high heat until chicken pieces are dark brown and crisp on the surface. Remove from pan and drain well before serving.

E-mail me Not My Bowl of Rice topics that you want featured in this blog. We’ll try to accommodate everyone. After all, this blog is meant to be everyone’s bowl of rice. er.escober@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Not My Bowl of Rice- the Blog

I have written and published this book- a fiction novel/cookbook hybrid- called Not My Bowl Of Rice. The book had been fairly reviewed. In my former (I just moved to Florida!) hometown paper in San Leandro, California; in a leading English daily in the Middle East; in a Filipino-American newspaper in Paris, France; even in a little known town called Chagrin Falls in Ohio in a paper aptly called Bainbridge Banter.

I did a lot of book reading and other marketing events for the book. I had a reading amidst slot machines in a casino in Reno, Nevada; a proper book reading attended by some Bay Area Literatis in a bookstore in San Francisco; even a book reading/booksigning event in a cruise ship on its way to Mexico. Last time I heard, the book is being included as part of recommended reading materials in several schools in California.

It has been a ride. A few weeks ago in a chic San Francisco bar, while choking and coughing over chardonnay that went down the wrong pipe, it dawned on me: “If I died tonight, at least I’ll have something tangible that I can leave the world!” Well, I didn’t die that night, just slightly stained a newly bought silk shirt. And that morbid grandiose thought that I had that night? I shelved it in my desktop folder labeled: My Illusions of Grandeur as a Published Author. Who knows? Someday, I might expand that folder into another book. But for now, I have this Blog, also called Not My Bowl Of Rice. This brainchild was born because denizens around the world who have heard of my book have been sending me all sorts of “not my bowl of rice” e-mails: What President Bush is doing for Iraq is not my bowl of rice. Pinoys in America who still use ‘Filipino time” as an excuse for being late is not my bowl of rice. Arnold Schwarzenegger as California governor? Not my bowl of rice! Eating green mangoes dipped in bagoong (shrimp paste) inside a movie theater? Ewwww, not my bowl of rice! But Hillary as First US Female President? Wow! Just 'my perfect bowl of rice'!

Okay, let me backtrack for those who have not heard of the phrase ‘not my bowl of rice’. It is a coined idiom that has the same meaning as ‘not my cup of tea.’ Our very own way of saying ‘it is not to my liking’ if you will. I’m sure this phrase had been used before so I will not claim to be the first one to use it. What I will own up to though, is the fact that I have passionately, shamelessly pushed for this phrase to be an accepted idiom worldwide.

My efforts are gradually paying off. Houghton Mifflin, (the publisher of American Heritage Dictionaries), has filed the phrase for consideration to be put into their reference books. In Australia, it is now part of Aussie slang. An article in their leading newspaper included the phrase ‘Not My Bowl Of Rice’ as part of their guide to Oz-speak for visiting Rugby players and fans. A quick search on the internet shows that the phrase is now being used as part of daily blogs (Samples I’d randomly picked in the internet: 1. Sorry man...politics not my bowl of rice. 2. On a personal perspective, as I have already said, shortening words into contractions is not my bowl of rice.). Even President Bush joined in by requesting a copy of the book prior to his last Manila trip. Now that got me excited! I was so sure that he would use the phrase in his Manila speech, as in ‘These mindless attacks by the Abu Sayyafs is not my bowl of rice!” In retrospect, I’m glad he didn’t use it, though a friend told me after I expressed my relief, that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

So, Not My Bowl Of Rice- The BLOG, will, hopefully, appear on a regular basis. It will deal with anything- serious or lighthearted issues, idiosyncrasies, food, fashion, etc- that is ‘not your bowl of rice’. Or even with things that are “your bowl of rice”. E-mail me Not My Bowl Of Rice topics that you want featured in this blog. We’ll try to accommodate everyone. After all, this blog is meant to be anyone’s bowl of rice. er.escober@gmail.com