by Nickie Wang
Afternoon is the best time of the day to sit down and have a little chat with friends over a cup of tea or coffee, or in the case of presidential sister Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, it is much better with a cup of hot chocolate. Then make the conversation more palatable with something sweet to sink your teeth into. What you get is perfect midday experience better than siesta or le boudoir.
A day after typhoon Basyang ravaged Metro Manila and paralyzed the electric system in the entire Luzon, Ballsy still found time to sit with us to have a little chit chat at the Manila Hotel. The meeting was in line with the promotion of local delicacies from Pampanga and Tarlac.
Manila Hotel has seven bars and restaurants, covering a large portion of world cuisines, but local treats have their special place in every buffet table of the premiere hotel. Every month, regionally known delicacies are being featured as special deserts and mirienda for the hotel’s guests. Some of the delectable samples are ube enseymada, pan de sal stuffed with kesong puti (feta cheese), and tasty rice cakes among others.
“The hotel is very close to my heart. My parents got married here and during my mother’s term as president, Manila Hotel was the palace’s official caterer,” Ballsy says.
Food has been an integral part of every gathering of the Aquinos. Ballsy recalls that during their younger years they would look forward to weekends because it’s the only time that they were together to share their mother’s specialty-spaghetti with meatballs.
“My mom used to cook a lot. And you know what, no matter how we tried to cook what mom would prepare for us, it’s nothing compared to her specialty which she prepares with motherly love. But interestingly, among my siblings it’s only Kris who’s able to have a great deal of interest to cooking,” the eldest Aquino reveals adding that most of them have sweet tooth.
While sipping a cup of hot chocolate, which is made even more special by using rice water to make it thick, Ballsy mentions that she is very adventurous when it comes to food. Unlike her siblings, who settle for food familiar to their palate, she is interested in trying different delicacies including the odd looking ones.
“Normally, I don’t ask for the name of the food or what the ingredients are. That’s the trick,” Ballsy shares citing her experiences in different restaurants in China and South Africa. Locally, she mentions crickets and bayawak (monitor lizard) eggs as two of the exotic food she has tasted and enjoyed.
While she claims that she can virtually try anything, Ballsy discloses that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III does not have direct passion to cooking complex viands. Surely, the country’s new highest leader can cook for himself but he would rather choose fastfood like pizza, hamburger, and dimsum. Actually, during the entire campaign period Pres. Noynoy survived with instant food fresh from the drive thru.