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Of pancakes and ciabatta, cooking my way to Portugal

Little A smeared peanut butter on the Pancake. She squirted some syrup on top and smudged it. Folding the pancake in half, she then handed it to me and waited with anticipation for my reaction.

Taking a bite, I gave her what she was waiting for. I oohed and ahhed in between bites watching a big smile come across her innocent face.

It was the first of the batch and was nearly burnt. I wanted it for myself and leave the nicer ones for the others (read Boss).

Little A’s dad came into the kitchen, grabbed four pancakes and arranged them in his platter.

While cooking the last two pancakes, I sneaked a couple of glances to Mr. V and observed how he was eating. With a quick steady pace, he cut and put each piece in his mouth, satisfaction was written all over his face. His was a picture of that hungry man in his elegant business suit dining in a gourmet restaurant. Each bite he took would make one feel like eating too.

Little A’s peanut butter and syrup pancake

I couldn’t believe my pancake would be enjoyed that much. During my first week in this house, I didn’t have an internet connection. For the first three days, Little A usually had Cerelac for her breakfast, but on the fourth day she asked for a pancake.

A pancake? I asked her in surprise. I had never made a pancake without looking at a Recipe whether online or in my recipe books. With no internet connection and recipe books, I felt worried and started to get stressed. I had a pancake recipe in my website but unable to access it, I realized the vanity of relying on technology for one’s resources.

Digging hard into my memory bank, I measured 1 cup of farinha di trigo con fermento (self-raising flouri) in a bowl, less than a cup of soya milk, 3 scoops (teaspoons) of brown sugar, a pinch of sea salt, cracked one egg and finally, 3 spoons of butter. I whisked all the ingredients and crossed my fingers as I poured the batter on the pan.

Presto, the recipe worked!

With the success of my pancake, I was motivated to accomplish more. Again from my memory, I made Pandesal, the Filipino national breakfast bread. Little A who hardly ate bread, had three in one go.


Success is an addiction. Once you tasted it, you would crave for more.

Such was the case in my cooking and baking that I thought of making Ciabatta, a rustic Italian bread which is my husband’s favorite.

“I think it’s ready.” Mr V alerted me as he looked through the oven glass door. I sprang from my seat to check the bread. It was almost ready.

Ciabatta Loaf

Meanwhile, Mr. V had gone to his office and when he returned the first thing he did was check the ciabatta which had completely cooled off. His delightful admiration to the loaf sounded like music in my ears.

Though widely traveled, Mr. V had never heard of ciabatta. Well, it’s time he should.

“I like this cheese,” he said while cutting a piece of the dairy free cheese I brought from the UK, and put it in a pandesal.

Mr. V just announced that he’s leaving for Angola. I quickly sliced two loaves of ciabatta, filled the top with chopped tomatoes, poured a little olive oil, sprinkled some salt and decorated them with cilantro leaves before carefully arranging them on a plate. I wanted to add chopped onions or garlic but as he was flying, I didn’t want to pollute his breath.

Mr. V’s eyes went big at the sight of the bruschetta. He took a big bite and kissed his finger, the Portuguese and the Spanish way of saying “Delicioso!”

Before moving to the UK, I didn’t know how to bake at all, let alone cook pasta. 8 years down the road, here I am reaching another country because of my cooking skills. Well, I had a connection that made this possible, but without the skills I doubt if this would have happened.

So learn new skills no matter how humble you think it could be, you never know where it might take you.

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This post first appeared on Travelog With Jem, please read the originial post: here

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Of pancakes and ciabatta, cooking my way to Portugal


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