Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Food’

Weekend in Cebu: LitFest, Writing Boot Camp, fabrics and accessories

September 17, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Design, Food, Places, Projects 2 Comments →

I left the house under the guilt-inducing gaze of Drogon, who disapproves of any activities that do not involve him.

I was in Cebu from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning for two events organized by Hendri Go, who runs the Cebu Literary Festival. I like Cebu: One can still breathe, even if the traffic is getting heavy; there are enthusiastic creative enterprises like Happy Garaje the design studio and Anthill the fabric gallery; there are intense chocolate creations at The Chocolate Chamber and that cake at the coffee shop of Big Hotel; and the major malls have wider, taller spaces than the ones in Manila. Also, Avatar earrings and accessories and Sunburst fried chicken.

After a quick lunch and chocolate fix, I did a reading and Q&A at one of the Cebu LitFest venues, a rooftop amphitheatre at SM Seaside. Near the amphitheatre is a cafe staffed by fluffy, lazy cats.

I slept like a baby at the Marco Polo Plaza, where the lovely staff sent up midnight snacks: ensaymada and tea on the first night, chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk on the second.

Before boot camp the next day I visited Anthill, a gallery and training center for producers of indigenous handwoven fabrics and accessories. I bought a reversible shawl that can be worn sixteen ways, which means I only have to bring a bunch of black T-shirts and jeans when I go to Tokyo this week.

Writing Boot Camp was held at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in the I.T. Park in Lahug. I talked about building the habit of writing, gave writing exercises, and interviewed each participant about what was keeping her/him from writing. Then we talked about the writing projects they will undertake, the first five pages of which are due on Saturday, 30 September.

En route to the airport I stopped by the Avatar showroom, where I stuck to my resolve to buy only two or three items. Lately I’ve felt that my things are closing in on me like the trash compactor in Star Wars, so I limit my purchases to stuff I need or really like. Hence, the slightly weird.

Thank you, Cebu! I’ll be back.

We watched Okja, then we had crispy pata for dinner.

July 03, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Movies 6 Comments →

Since Wonder Woman, every Hollywood product that’s opened in cinemas has been garbage (My eardrums are still recovering from the previous Transformers. No, thanks). So for our Sunday movie night we turned to Netflix’s Okja, Bong Joon-ho’s satire about capitalism in general, and the food industry in particular. You might say it aspires to convert viewers to vegetarianism. You can gauge our reaction from the fact that after seeing it, we had crispy pata for dinner.

Maybe I have to be in the right mood for a movie about a super pig who is not named Babe or animated by Miyazaki, but I found it bizarre and not in a fun way. Its critique of capitalism and consumers is timely and should be provocative, but it doesn’t go far enough. It is unwieldy, its whimsy forced, and the laughs presumably lost in translation. It quickly grows tiresome. Tilda Swinton and Jake Gyllenhaal do some rare terrible overacting, though Paul Dano is oddly romantic as an animal rights activist. The super-pig looks like a hippopotamus. When the conflict is resolved, I thought, “Something they could’ve done in the first ten minutes!” just seconds before Juan said it. If you know Juan, this is an achievement.

If you suddenly died, would your cat or dog eat you?

July 02, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Cats, Food No Comments →

Note: None of the adorable cats and dogs depicted in this article have eaten their humans. (Shutterstock)

Surely the thought has occurred to you. The simple answer is….


Don’t look at them like that. You’ll be dead.

Read it in Big Think.

Sensible breakfasts for people with zero cooking skills (who are rushing somewhere)

June 22, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Food 3 Comments →

I can boil water, nuke things in the microwave, and operate complicated espresso machines. That is the full range of my kitchen skills, unless you count calling food delivery services and being called “Sir” by the operators. Since I do not cook, the two basic food groups in my house are coffee and oatmeal. I consider myself an oatmeal expert because I can handle both the quick-cooking and instant (just add milk or water) varieties.

The Impossible Burger tastes exactly like meat.

January 25, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Food 2 Comments →

As a meatatarian, my main issue with vegan and vegetarian food (as long as it does not come with a lecture on how not eating animals is so much better for you and the planet in general) is that it tastes like cardboard. For a long time I’ve suspected that the ingredient that makes meat taste—well, meaty—is blood. Yup, we’re vampires.

A couple of months ago I had lunch at Momofuku Nishi in Manhattan and there was something on the menu called “the impossible burger”. It was made entirely of plants, but claimed to taste like beef. The fact that it was called “impossible” sounded like a challenge, so I ordered it.

It was delicious, and it did taste exactly like beef. They haven’t gotten the texture exactly—it’s softer and more moist, which I did not mind at all. And I was right: the ingredient in question is hemoglobin.

The magic ingredient turned out to be a compound called heme. Their research identified this as the thing which made meat distinct, giving it a richer taste and its bloody, red colour.

The firm has now figured out a way to produce heme on a large scale cost effectively by using fermentation.

Read about the hamburger made of plants.

The Impossible Burger cost USD14 (about PHP700). When it becomes available in Manila, assuming it isn’t already, I hope it’s priced lower, although travelling reminds me that food in Manila is expensive (the value for money ratio is low).

In Istanbul, living in the present moment is a form of defiance.

January 19, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Food, Places, Traveling 2 Comments →

Marzipans. All photos of Istanbul vitrines and shop displays by JZ.


Candied fruit

A sparrow was sipping water from a half-filled glass in an Istanbul café Wednesday morning. Customers had their lunch outside, thanks to the warm weather, and chatted about the latest episode of Sherlock, screened hours after the terror attack on the city’s Reina nightclub on New Year’s Eve, which killed 39 people. Two cats were fed leftovers; a stray dog watched the scene from a safe distance. The terror threat level had been raised as high as it would go, not only because of the Reina attack, but also a simultaneous attack in the capital Ankara that had been foiled at the last minute, not to mention many more that had been thwarted in the past month. But this did not at all seem like a city under threat.

How do Istanbulites do it? It is a hard trick to pull, this immediate return to normality. Some consider it an expression of powerlessness, but I find wisdom in the ability to counter shock with calm. After the suicide attack at the Ataturk Airport in June, the scene was cleaned of signs of chaos in a matter of hours. The shattered glass was swept away, airport personnel reopened their desks, baristas served overpriced Caramelattes to travelers—it didn’t really feel as if 45 people had died hours earlier. And yet those people were not trying to erase history. Living in the present moment, for them, was a form of defiance, not amnesia.

Read Kaya Genc’s dispatch from Istanbul.


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