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What happened last weekend, was that I couldn’t run my half-marathon as originally planned and trained for months before. It all happened slowly and yet it all happened so fast.

Me and a few friends have been talking about joining the 2014 Corregidor International Half-Marathon since last year. Heck, I was even conditioning myself already when I was still in India last September. After class I’d run 5-10kms around our campus in Ahmedabad every other day. Most of the times by myself. Sometimes with Isha who could barely fit running in her busy schedule back in Dhaka. Those days we had lots of time to kill and I’m glad we did that. During study tour, I would sneak out of our hotels before breakfast to run at a nearby park in Jaipur, or fast-walk my way while looking for the Dilwara Temple in Mt. Abu (I failed that mission but had personal, memorable sightseeings along the way anyway).

In Manila, I mixed other activities to supplement my training runs –yoga, gym, circuit training. I had a pretty solid template for conditioning myself, Christmas and New Year binge-eating notwithstanding. And then I got sick last Wednesday. It went on Thursdsay, Friday. Saturday, the doctor confirmed it was something viral so I was definitely cautioned against joining the run the following day. And as much as I hate to admit–and oftenly think about it afterwards in pain–I did not go. Even if I thought I was already feeling well enough. That is not to say I let that fact sink in easily. I was so ready yet at the same time couldn’t risk spreading sickness during an international running event in Corregidor, an island near Manila known for its ghosts and um, historical context. I haven’t been there–I’ve been wanting to, but things never fell into place. Ah, well. 2015, then.

I had planned on writing about poha after the event, a favorite Indian fried rice dish we usually had for breakfast. In my several attempts at cooking it, I have yet to achieve that same lightly sweet and poignant aftertaste that grows and fades with you while eating it hot. Yet it was ideal fare for loading carbs the day before the run. I shall write about it more when I actually get to run some other 21km event next time. By then I shall have found and learned the art in cooking poha. It’s supposed to be easy, but it’s tricky-easy for me.

* * *

Times like this, I fall back into my usual and more comfortable role of receiving food. Every weekend, I look forward to good food in the house. Especially on a Sunday. All the great cooking done at home is turned up a mile of a notch. My sister Nayna made these for a family potluck dinner (current Samsung mobile technology could not do them justice):

Made by Nayna: (Top) chicken meatballs in tomato gravy, olives and cheese; (Bottom) Pork salpicao at its finest.

Made by Nayna: (Top) chicken meatballs sunk in tomato gravy, olives and cheese; (Bottom) Pork salpicao at its finest.

In a perfect world, a spoonful of those amazing bits of garlic could have cured my current sickness. And if you can’t imagine what these cuts of pork tenderloin cooked salpicao style were like as I ate them with hot, white rice–I’m sorry. Tender, with a hint of salty, hit by garlic.

I wouldn’t say they’re comfort food but I delighted in them as they were. Ate them again and again (I had a small plate–not that it’s particularly relevant to mention but anyway), trying to bury memories of all the carbs I foolishly gobbled up, the collective calories of which I would’ve burned during the run–pasta, poha, pancakes.

And then something new. You won’t see those chicken meatballs my sister grilled in the top photo, but here’s one of them below. Mom made me an open sandwich out of nowhere:

Hi

Hi…

It’s arugula, chicken meatball in tomato sauce and carabao white cheese on toast. It was so good I didn’t know what happened to the first one. I was already in the kitchen making my second, following what Mom did, still relishing the experience of having just eaten one. 

It was an awfully good day, that Sunday. The weather was just perfect. Bright sun in the morning and yet the January air was distinctly cool. Perfect running weather compared to the hot and dry morning when we trained last weekend. I had to appreciate that, in sickness or in good health.

Ah, fuck it. I’m running again soon. That’s all I really wanted to say. In the meantime, this doctor-prescribed weeklong stay-in mode means I get more time in the kitchen. Now that’s something to look forward to.

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