A scene from my childhood: My father comes home from his early morning trip to the market with a whole head of pig, cleans it then takes it to the neighborhood bakery where he asks the owner (a friend of his) to roast it.
Hours later, he retrieves the pig’s head from the bakery and we sit down to lunch. My father carves the pig’s cheeks, slices the ears and the snout. With all the meat almost gone, he splits the roasted pig head through the bone with a heavy cleaver and hands me the best part — the brain. My mother cringes; my brother’s face is inscrutable.
I’m done with lunch so I place the pig’s brain in a bowl and, taking a spoon, I run next door to my grandparents’ house. I go up to my aunt’s room, sit on the floor and eat the pig’s brain with my spoon. My aunt cringes and tells me I will get sick from all the fat in the pig’s brain. I keep eating.
I was about seven years old.
I’ve lost count of how many times similar scenes played out in our house. And it wasn’t always pig’s brain. Sometimes, it was chicken brain or bangus (milkfish) marrow. But I knew — I knew — that, for the rest of my life, I would crave things that many people won’t touch. [Read more…]