A third of the family opted to sleep near the bonfire, under the stars. They awoke to a rosy dawn on the cool stones.
My dad decided to work up a good appetite, heading to the beach. After breakfast, he and his cousins went off to see some vendors about some yellowfin tuna for lunch. This handsome specimen weighed 22kg. The ladies obliged by preparing and weighing the fish. We bought about 10kg, for sinigang, kilawen and grilling.
We were also able to enjoy a summer’s bounty of various fruits, as the balikbayans had not tasted some of the more exotic ones for years. There were Indian mangoes, bananas, oranges, chicos, guayabanos (soursops), and passionfruit. The colors of the fruit, against the warm wood of the table, against the grey stones, made each shot a still life.
Many were quite pleased to see a salad seaweed, “ar-arosep” or “lato” on the table. Its grape-like clusters had some crunch and left a pleasing, mild, briny flavor on the tongue.
Here’s some delicious grilled eggplant, mixed with some sliced mild shallots, tomatoes and the local vinegar, for a salad. The region’s bagoong, a sauce of fermented, salted fish, was also served as an optional seasoning.
Some horned “cowfish” were also grilled in between damp flat bamboo slats tied together with wire. Their firm white flesh was sweet.
We used our hands, forgoing the spoons and forks, and somehow the food tasted better. There was something about the salt air, and being with the people we loved that made it a feast to remember.