death-salt & death-pepper

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death, or dying, is how a friend (a university professor) described the experience of wasabi in his mouth.  the aftermath… life from the dead!  a resurrection… of sorts.

what i hear often describing the experience of wasabi in the mouth is that it is “hot” — like chili-pepper-hot.  we have a word for it in tagalog — maanghang.

i don’t describe it as maanghang.  instead, i describe the experience of wasabi in the mouth as an allergic reaction — a strong involuntary repulsion to a potent chemical.

when the wasabi paste touches my upper palate, it sends electrical signals into the nasal cavities, singes up and around my skull, causing my entire head to shiver and quiver for a few seconds.  it takes my breath away — literally!  the aftermath is a teary-eyed sigh of relief from the terrible onslaught.

but, the entire experience is altogether a pleasurable one, albeit, the initial onslaught feels terribly powerful.  this is the reason, i think, my friend (the professor) describes his experience as a death, or as dying… but to live again afterwards.  this is also the reason why i love to repeat the experience over and over again, a few times.

now, the wasabi i am talking about, is not the real deal wasabi that the japanese gourmets use — according to some expert.  it is just an imitation.  so what!  it’s the death-experience that makes even the ‘alternative’ wasabi worth dipping your favourite sushi or sashimi on.

now, this death-salt & death-pepper (photo above) is wasabi-salt & wasabi-pepper — pulverized salt with pulverized wasabi and pulverized pepper with pulverized wasabi, in salt & pepper shakers.  it was given by a friend who just arrived from japan.  i may not be able to read the label, but i know the taste of salt and pepper, even wasabi laced salt & pepper.

i know a little japanese… he owns a ramen noodle house.

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that’s why it’s called a schnauzer

i met a handful of new people on our weekend vacation in siquijor.  meeting new people is not really my thing.  in fact, it is one thing in my “avoid list”.  but, it was something i was unable to avoid.

i was unable to avoid meeting this lovely, young, backpacking german couple, students from berlin — julian allgaier and louise apelt, (hmm… aliases?)

we called them over, as they were on their way out the park, and our group just settled in at a picnic table for mid-afternoon snacks.  we called them over to have some food, to which they happily obliged.

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they dug into whatever we offered them : mashed cassava sweetened with lumps of brown sugar, boiled cassava in sugar syrup, charcoal-roasted banana, glutinous rice cakes, and plain-salted steamed tulingan.  they enjoyed all the food, the company, and the conversations.

louise said that filipinos are beautiful.  in the case of germans, she said, you need to look for beautiful germans, (but she is beautiful); and the british, she said, are ugly; but the filipino face had good proportion.

“eat some more!” i replied, “here, have more food!”  so, julian added, “the filipinos are really very beautiful!”  everybody joined in, “here, have more food!”  we all had a good laugh!

when i told them i was going to write about this meeting in my blog, julian asked me the title of my blog.  he couldn’t get exactly what i was saying, so i had to spell each word out, “the” t-h-e, “stray” s-t-r-a-y, “schnauzer” s-c-h-n-a-u-z-e-r, “with no spaces in between the words.”

when i got to finish spelling schnauzer, julian was quizzical.

he said, “oh… mustache???  schnauzer is german for mustache.”  

i replied, “ahh, i see… schnauzer… it’s the dog… with a mustache… (so that’s why it’s called a schnauzer!)”

so that’s why it’s called a schnauzer!