Monday, November 2, 2015

Afterthought: THE “INUN-UNAN” MAGIC

As a person who grew up in a modest rural community in Darong, Sta. Cruz; I always love looking at how my family and relatives survived during my childhood days where everything we had undertaken, be it work or play, were all done with the spirit of simplicity. From a traditional bahay kubo house we reside out of light materials to walking 1.5 kilometres to fetch potable water from a flowing source provided by San Miguel Corporation, life in my early years was truly plain, simple and beautiful.

And the foods were no exemption. Since we don’t have electricity yet and refrigerator was a mere imagination, we had to cook our dishes all in the evening so that we could consume it the following day for breakfast and lunch in school. Which always prompted my mother to cook the usual dish I love, inun-unan nga isda.

To some, this is commonly referred to as paksiw, a fish delicacy only seasoned with salt, vinegar, and garlic. Others innovated the dish by adding little edible oil and chilli peppers and punctured with paminta powder so that it tastes more tempting. The notion to put backyard vegetables like okra, eggplant and ampalaya is also a hit for primetime eaters like me. Although others hate its smell, I always like the soothing fragrance brought by the vinegar when the cooking is almost over and the vapour starts to come out from the pores of the pan. We then mixed it with the hard-cooked corn (we used this before instead of rice) with my mother evenly distributing the ration to fit to all six of us children, our meal would be over and we were all satisfied. 

Almost every day we consumed inun-unan. It formed part as a delicacy we always settled to because aside from being easy to prepare, it cost lesser and it also taste really good. Today, I still request my wife to cook it even if we could already have some variety of dishes that we could choose to. Every time I climbed mountain or go home after a long trip or a marathon, inun-unan will always be a ready dish in our dining table. Even if it will be the only dish available every day, I will consume it and will not refuse eating it for the rest of my life. It is the only dish I know that would always ignite my appetite, no other dishes. It is beyond compare. 

What makes inun-unan so magical for me? I guess it goes beyond the taste. More than being palatable, inun-unan is the glue that bonded our family, especially my siblings, together until now. It was one of the witnesses of our lives’ survival, a fitting ingredient why we developed an extraordinary love for each other, no matter what life and instances gave us.

At some point in our home today my wife would cook inun-unan but refused to eat it sometimes. My daughter Majesta, on the other hand, might have acquired my appetite as she also love eating it. For all eternity, inun-unan will be a dish especially designed for me and no matter what happens, I will always love eating this dish I called “poor-man’s dish” because it allows me to reconnect with my past.