Sinigang is one of the most loved Filipino dishes. You can never be considered as a real Filipino if you haven’t tasted or lived in a home that didn’t serve Sinigang.
Sinigang is a local dish known for its sour flavor brought about by the tamarind as its primary ingredient. To make it more sour, some prefer to add artificial seasoning either in powder or bouillon cubes. It’s a soup that uses either pork or fish mixed with vegetables such as okra, tomatoes, taro corms, daikon, water spinach, string beans, and eggplant.
In our home, there was never a week without Sinigang for lunch and dinner. But here’s the unusual thing about my Nanay’s (mother) Sinigang. The soup was bland and almost tastes like plain water. I grew up believing that is how Sinigang should taste. I held on to this belief for more than 10 years.
I only discovered the real taste of Sinigang when I bid goodbye to my lunch box. Nanay finally gave me the freedom to decide on what should I take for lunch. I was given my own daily allowance.
How I wish I was able to document or even remember the first meal I bought from my daily allowance. Among the many firsts I made, my first taste of Sinigang away from home was the most memorable. I remember buying a lunch set of rice and Sinigang na baboy (pork). In a cold and rainy lunch break, I figured out that Sinigang would make it as the best meal.
I never felt any excitement with my first away from home Sinigang. In my mind, I know this is the same tasteless soup. I was only after the hot soup to warm my stomach. When I had my first sip, I was silently surprised. Why does it taste so sour? I never asked my classmates about it. Thank God I chose to remain quiet. My silent personality saved me. Otherwise, I would have planted another source of dumb embarrassment. For sure, my classmates would forever remember this ignorance.
It took me some time to ask Nanay how come our Sinigang doesn’t have that flavorful sour taste. When I finally clarified things, my Nanay’s reply was so simple.
I can’t make a sour Sinigang soup because your Special Brother can’t eat anything sour. It would make him sick and acidic.
Since then, I never bothered Nanay again. My Daddy once suggested that she make two preparations. A bland Sinigang set aside for my Special Brother. The remaining soup will be sprinkled with tamarind to achieve that sour soup. I should be happy because I found a companion from my Dad. But no, I never pushed this request.
The bland and tasteless Sinigang at home taught me one great lesson.
The best way to deal with sacrifices is to condition ourselves that what we are doing are not sacrifices.
Sometimes there are great things that emerged from being blinded and deceived.
The mind is a powerful steer. But as always, the mind demands another compelling force .. the heart. In case the mind is overpowered by the truth, there’s always the heart to make us believe that there’s no such thing as sacrifice.