Sunday, August 2, 2009

Herbs in my Garden

There is something about growing your own herbs that makes cooking more profound. Does that make any sense to you?

I recall in high school, I would look at the old imported women's magazines, hard-bound and well-preserved by the nuns. I would read the recipes and somehow in my mind I could taste them as they were described. And in as much as then, herbs like dill and basil were not popular nor common in the Philippines, nor have I ever tasted them--I was just imagining how good it could be.

I knew the basics of cooking like frying and sauteing :-) And all because I was hungry saturday mornings. So I began with sardines, fried egg, sauteed corned beef with the prerequisite garlic fried rice. Eventually, I graduated to sweet sour pork, calamares, hotdogs with onions. Then on to baking like marble cake and brownies.
My Father would indulge me by letting me plan and cook the family Noche Buena and media noche which meant a bigger budget for crown roast, lasagne, turkey, galantina, paella and so on.

I used to hate onions, uncooked or undercooked garlic, leeks and ginger (unless I had to take salabat or ginger tea because I kept losing my voice!) Today, i enjoy practically all kinds of veggies and couldn't imagine my tastebuds without sweet basil (mmmm pesto...gremolata...)... lemongrass (ohhh tom yum)... pandan (kaya jam) ...dill (with smoked salmon or with my version of the spanish omellete)... ginger (ginger and green onion leaves sauce...hainanese chicken)...rosemary (heavenly roasted chicken or pork roast)...

As to growing my own herbs-- I've had hits and misses. Meaning, some have died on me before I can enjoy them! So I'm still learning. To date, I have a couple of sweet basil, rosemary, italian organo, a small patch just for pandan and turmeric. We grew lemongrass last year, but they became too grassy in such a small area at our backyard. I'm now trying mint and stevia.

I'm imagining that someday soon I will have a small patch of land somewhere near Tagaytay, so I can grow more that a few pots of herbs. I romanticize the thought of tomato plants for my own consumption... a couple of cocoa trees to make my own "tsokolate tablea"... perhaps a row of magic fruit trees (you know, the one with the small red berry that when you eat, will make any sour fruit taste really sweet for a few minutes.)

It's so clear in the movie in my mind that someday, I get to serve guests tarragon tea after a satisfying meal of grilled rosemary-garlic chicken... roasted vegetable salad...lemon and basil pasta...

I imagine that you will be visiting me someday.

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