May 24, 2024

I was thinking of buying edible mushrooms from our school’s organic store when the first rain of March came to quench the summer heat on a Wednesday afternoon. I heard a thunderstorm coming from the forest reserve of our campus where we get cultured honey and tarragon leaves to cure our colds. I like it how we, teachers, would go every after our classes in the farmer’s store to buy fresh poultry eggs, pebbled potatoes, leafy vegetables for our dinner at homes, and freshly baked breads for our breakfast the next day.
We were lucky because after the blessings of the rains, there were pink, yellow, and shitake mushrooms displayed the next days.
“Have you tried making your instant noodles special with these pink mushrooms?” I asked my co-teacher Joshua after we had our coffee and pancake at Tabangaoen. For most of young independent professionals, we haven’t enough time to cook food and often eat processed food because they are easy to prepare.
“Will try that next, for now I’ll buy try these freshly cut stems and this P15 worth labuyo, perfect for cooking laing tonight,” Joshie replied.
Since then, Joshie and I would become creative in thinking of how to make our dinner special. Sometimes I bought spinach leaves, beans, and veggie noodles and mixed it with meat or canned goods. I was relieved with the guilt feeling of under-handling my nutrition if at least I add some healthy ingredient to my viand. As an employee I ought to be healthy and strong. Therefore, if work becomes stressful, I avoid coffee and instead eat ripe bananas, strawberries, kamote or wild tomatoes or whatever is available, as these were what we used to eat when we were young and which proved to be effective in pacifying the acid reflux pressuring my stomach.
One time, I missed terribly my hometown in Sadanga because I wasn’t able to visit. It was Tuesday afternoon, I went to the farmer’s store where a small box was being delivered, which contained small pouches of watery fruit worth P30 each. I was delighted when he said those were fermented kamoteng kahoy. I bought three plastics – my meal desert for three days. In our hometown, we call these kashoy. During cold season, we eat kashoy to warm our body and keep my parents strong in working in the farm.
Food has been an important ingredient to keep our body healthy. It also keeps the bond among us teachers in our school. While my female colleagues would cut on rice and eat organic vegetable salad to keep their weight on check, the married ones buying affordable but GAP vegetables for their families, I and Joshie would also search for food that remind us of our childhood and since both of us love farm-produced food from the province.
We like mushrooms from the forest after rain, we like our Sagada coffee black, our simple snacks of pancake, similar to that one sold at Bontoc circle; then we also like Abra miki, served with freshly cut onion leaves; our strawberries, those sold by our Agriculture students, and our noodles made of squash processed by our Home Economics students.
There are many more, which we choose to either support our local farmers or simply tap on our DNA – assuring our ancestors that we still eat today the food that kept them alive for longer years, to honor our land and the culture of food we inherited from them.