Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for May, 2013

Just dessert, or weapon of world domination?

May 31, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, World Domination Update 2 Comments →


For months we’d been walking past the “Inutak” food stand outside the supermarket. The other day we finally tried it.


Inutak is a sticky rice cake slathered with coconut cream. It’s very rich and evil, meaning we approve enthusiastically. Inside it looks like a smooth sapin-sapin/halayang ube. We’re guessing the name “inutak” comes from the brain/marrow-like texture of its top layer.


Many years ago, our friend Tina wondered why no one has come up with a dessert of dried mango slices dipped in chocolate. After many years of pointless searching, she found it.


It’s intense and insanely brilliant. On their own, dried mango and chocolate are good; together they are awesome squared.

Are you thinking what we’re thinking? This is an instrument of world domination! With this weapon, we would crush all competition.

Isak Dinesen after Africa

May 30, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Books 2 Comments →

Photo of Isak Dinesen, real name Baroness Karen Blixen, at 75. From Estilo Cool

We just read James Salter’s Paris Review interview from 1993. He mentions the Danish writer Isak Dinesen, the author of Out of Africa and protagonist of the movie starring Meryl Streep (“I had a farm in Africa…” We love Meryl, but Isak Dinesen is more fascinating than the movie).


I noticed Out of Africa on your desk. What did you mean when you praised Isak Dinesen “for the courage she had in what she omitted” from that book?


I take that book to be a model. As you know, she had a husband who gave her syphilis; she had a childhood, a marriage; she had a love affair; one senses—I haven’t read her biography—a tremendous amount happened to her. None of it is in this story, Out of Africa. Her husband is briefly mentioned, so is her father. So are many other figures. One has a very strong feeling about this woman and her life. You feel you know her. And yet she was not obliged, so to speak, to lift her skirts, display the sheets. I admire that. I thought it would be interesting to write a book that tells some important things but doesn’t bother to tell every detail.

This reminded us that we have a couple of Isak Dinesen books in our library: Seven Gothic Tales and Last Tales. (We first heard of her in The Catcher in the Rye. She was one of the authors Holden wished he could telephone.)

7gothic tales

last tales

We had not read them in ages, so we picked up Seven Gothic Tales. It took us several pages to get used to her enigmatic, intentionally archaic style, but now we are completely mesmerized.

We copy passages by writers we admire for the vicarious thrill of writing them.

If a movie covers explosive realities, it’s a bomba movie.

May 30, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Movies No Comments →

Mae Paner as Juana C and John James Uy as Yani take to the dance floor in Juana C The Movie, written by Rody Vera and directed by Jade Castro. Photo courtesy of Laganap.

“I think you are truly a great performer. The social critique is also clear. But as a religious hindi masyadong to my taste yung risqué jokes and scenes but because of your great acting they became funny satires rather than sleazy scenes.” – Sister Mary John Mananzan, OSB

“Truly daring and yes, irreverent, but Juana Change the movie is able to bring to the surface critical societal realities including those that are taboo. In a very Filipino way, the movie is able to advocate change and everyone’s responsibility to make this happen.” – Brother Armin Luistro, Secretary of Education

“Your movie was my first experience of social commentary framed in biting, crazy, fun-filled satire, in-your-face silly in parts but wholly thoughtful and amazingly intelligent.” – Neric Acosta, Chair, Laguna Lake Development Authority

“Sobrang enjoy ako sa Juana C. Humor ng totoong humorist. I think it will be a hit.” – Ramon Jimenez, Secretary of Tourism

Pictures to look at while stuck in a traffic jam

May 29, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Art, Places No Comments →

Things we saw at Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo.








Superhot Naga Chili Peppers

May 29, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Food No Comments →


The chili pepper does not want to be your friend. It wants to hurt you so badly you turn it loose. Plants cannot bare teeth or run for the hills; they must protect themselves passively. Some are horribly bitter. Others, less forgiving, are poisonous. Capsaicin, the primary active ingredient in hot peppers, falls into the category of irritant, but that’s an insult to its power. (Chemical irritation, or chemical feel, is the third of the chemical senses, along with smell and taste.) Capsaicin in the eyes or airways is disabling to the extent that it is used as a nonlethal weapon—pepper spray. Bhut Jolokia grenades were developed several years ago by India’s Defence Research and Development Organization and used on protesters in Kashmir. (The grenades were shelved because the chili powder is prone to fungal rot.) Both the eyes and the airways are extremely sensitive, far more so than the skin or tongue. This is normally—outside of protests and riots—a good thing, because seeing and breathing are crucial to survival; the sensitivity of these organs and tissues motivates their owner to keep them safe.

Less immediate but no less excruciating are the effects on the digestive tract. As I’m about to see.

Read The Gut-Wrenching Science Behind the World’s Hottest Peppers by Mary Roach at Smithsonian.

Ten reasons to keep a journal

May 28, 2013 By: jessicazafra Category: Notebooks, The Workplace 17 Comments →

writing box

The chronicler of boredom told us he was planning to start a journal. Having maintained a journal since we were 12, we can vouch for the benefits of journal-keeping.

1. Writing forces you to organize your thoughts so your life feels more orderly. In our case, writing something down makes it feel more real.

2. It’s an excellent forum for venting, and unlike Facebook and other social media, the things you say in the grip of strong emotion will not come back to bite you someday.

3. The physical act of writing on paper is very relaxing. There’s nothing like defiling good paper. When you’re young it won’t matter if you write your journal on the backs of bus tickets; as you get older you may find that you like having nice things. As Raul says, “Luxury is our revenge on the young.” (We do not approve of the young having too much luxury. They haven’t earned it.)

4. As Oscar Wilde said, you need something sensational to read on the train or during long voyages.

5. It trains you to hold a conversation with yourself. If you can do that, you will never be deathly bored or lonely.

6. You deal with your feelings directly, saving you the cost of going to a psychotherapist.

7. You can express all your romantic obsessions, declarations of eternal passion, and half-serious threats to kill yourself for love without making your closest friends throw up. (In which case you should keep your journal in a very safe place because if other people read it, you’ll want to kill yourself.) Years later, you can re-read your hysterical entries and have a good laugh.

8. Very important for people who write: You can pilfer your journal for material.

9. You’re less likely to forget something if you write it in your journal.

10. If you become famous, it would be of great help to your official biographer. If you intend to become famous, you might want to make your days sound more fascinating than they really are. Embellish. You wouldn’t want to bore your biographer.