My maternal grandfather, Alfredo Teneros Kagawan, Sr., would have been 87 years old today if he hadn’t passed away in 1988. Apart from my parents, he was one of my first teachers – and was the one, come to think of it, who sparked my interest in books, travel, and – to a certain extent – food.
I was telling Doc Gelo of Beyond Toxicity that my Lolo was the one who introduced me to the wonders of French cuisine through a bowl of frogs’ legs braised in tomato sauce, the famed jambon du Paris, and the pains au chocolat from a bakery around the corner from our hotel in Lourdes. He set the foundation for my love of foreign languages, teaching me how to count in Japanese, French, and German, then progressing to the most basic expressions. In his house in Paranaque, he had one of the most extensive personal libraries I’ve ever seen and this was one of the places where I began my love affair with the printed word. The passage of over 20 years has softened my grief, but I doubt if I will ever stop missing that witty old gentleman who taught me so much yet left us so soon.
I do not usually attend weekday Mass, but I made it a point to go to church today in Lolo‘s memory. I wanted to share a meal with my grandfather even in spirit after the Mass, something special and particularly good. I don’t remember if he particularly liked fish, but since it’s the last Friday of Lent, it had to be something made with seafood. Since I don’t know where to get braised frogs’ legs in tomato sauce in this part of the world, I settled for some grilled salmon belly over scallion rice. As I savored each bite, I had a conversation with Lolo in my head, telling him how good the food was – how the rice was good and savory, the salmon perfectly cooked and how it melted in my mouth.
I told him about my writing and how I was planning to submit my entries for a national writing competition next week.
I told him about how lonely I felt, seeing how I’m still unattached at my age. I asked him if he could knock some sense into the boy I loved. (Not that he would, of course. Lolo was never really one for emotional things.)
I told him I missed him and how I wished he were there to share the meal with me.