Last week I asked Chat if she would teach me how to make an authentic Filipino dinner.
Me: Chat, will you teach me how to make a filipino dish?
Chat: Yes...hehe. (She laughs after almost everything I say.)
Me: Ok, what do you want to make?
Chat: Well, I make chicken soup for ex-pats I worked for. Him like very much. Would Sir Lee like chicken soup?
Chat: Does Sir Lee like chili leaves or basil leaves?
Me: Hmmm... he'll eat whatever.
She wasn't really thrilled with this answer... and the truth is, I have no idea if he likes either of them, and he probably doesn't know either.
I think Chat is worried about my "wifely skills." She asks me everyday what I'm making for "Sir Lee" tonight for dinner, and when I shrug and say I haven't thought about it yet she seems very concerned.
The filipino culture is very service oriented and everyone I meet goes out of their way to make sure you are not only taken care of, but that you are completely satisfied. (I just don't have the heart to tell them that I am not satisfied... for instance, I am not satisfied that I still don't have hot water!)
Chat also comes from a different generation. A generation of filipino women who subserviently care for the house and their family; bending over backwards to ensure that their husbands every need is met.
I on the other hand am an American and from a completely different generation; and naturally I have a very different philosophy...
Lee was self sufficient before we married, and I don't think when he said, "I do," he meant, "I do... not know how to do anything for myself all of a sudden. Now I need you to do everything for me or I won't be able to survive."
I like to cook and I do cook dinner most of the time. But I do not plan it days in advance and I don't stay up at night wondering if Lee will like what I cook. If he likes it great, and if not... he is very capable of making himself something he does like.
Chat is not impressed.
Anyway, we decided on chicken soup.
Chat: You want me to use native chicken?
Me: Sure. I want you to do it the way the average filipino would make it.
Chat: That means I need to....(She starts to make a slicing motion across her neck with her finger, then she laughs.)
Me: That means you have to??? What?
Chat: Hehe... kill chicken
Me: Ooohhh. Well... I want to see it the way you would do it, so I guess if it's for educational purposes it's ok.
Chat: It's ok? Me kill chicken? Hehe
She should be impressed now. This is a huge step for me. I don't even like to stick my hand up the butt of the Thanksgiving turkey to pull the stuff out. And those insides come sealed in a nice little bag.
We planned to have our cooking lesson on Thursday. On Wednesday afternoon she came knocking at my door. I opened the door to find Chat standing there with a chicken.
Me: Is that it?!
Chat: Yes. Hehe
Me: Where are we going to put it?
Chat: I'll tie it up outside.
Oh... you aren't going to believe this...
Yes. That is my laundry basket.
Yes. That chicken is right outside our bedroom window.
Later that night I started having second thoughts.
Me: I'm having second thoughts about killing the chicken.
Lee: Is that why you're sitting on the bathroom floor?
Me: No... (maybe.) But I can't tell Chat. She went all the way to the market and got the chicken. Then she rode from the market to our house on a jeepney, with a chicken on her lap!
Lee: Well, if you send her back somebody else will just eat her. That's what she was raised for. Her life sucks anyway, she is a chicken... in the Philippines.
Well that's true. You can't really get any lower on the food chain here.
Lee closed the curtains before we went to bed so we wouldn't have to look at it.
It poured down rain that night, and I couldn't sleep. The power had gone out so it was getting really hot, the rain was so loud on the roof, and I couldn't help thinking that the chicken was probably drowning outside. I decided that if the rain washed her away then it was just a sign that I wasn't supposed to eat her.
She was still there in the morning.