Ice cream Saturdays

If ice cream were a day I’d say it would have to be a Saturday. Generally a happy, fluid treat of a day that recharges tired bones wrought by packed weekdays, I think Saturdays are very lovely indeed. I like that the day makes me exhale — long, deep, and at a leisurely pace. Mainly I like it because with Saturday, there is still Sunday to look forward to, that extra free day we all seem to optimistically believe lasts longer than it actually does, when in fact it doesn’t, really, because Monday comes right after. I liken Sundays to waking up and finding that you have an extra 30 minutes to roll around in bed. But then you still must get up when that 30 minutes has played out. Saturdays are different in that when you wake up you can choose not to get up until you absolutely want to. So in effect, Saturday is the real free day; Sunday just pretends to be.

As I write this it is a Saturday. Alongside a thick dream of holding in my hand this very moment a tall, clear glass filled almost to the brim with a cold malt drink like Horlicks (someone please tell me where that is available for purchase), I am feeling guilty (mostly to myself) because I missed my deadline last week. So I am tying to be good by writing earlier than usual, almost a week before my next deadline. It is quite early in the night, barely 9 p.m. and I am in 10-year-old pajamas I forgot I owned but found last week, squished at the bottom of the pile in my closet. My body is warm from a hot shower, and I am feeling all tired but inspired after a lovely day trip to Baclayon in Bohol. I will tell you more about that sometime soon but for now, here I am, all snug and cozy in bed, almost ready to call it a night, except that I can’t just yet because I am dreaming of freshly-baked Challah bread from a lady I know only as Gng. Bukid.

I want to dunk toasted strips of that in my imaginary Horlicks drink. Oh my, oh my, please allow me to tell you how good her bread is. Too good, my hips may start protesting soon. I have been gorging on it for over a week now. It tastes like brioche, delicious and soft but deceptively light — that is, until you catch yourself eating too much of it. My aunt lives so near this home baker (she was in fact the one who turned me on to it) and she has just told me that about two hours, 11 p.m. to be exact, Gng. Bukid will be done with a fresh batch of assorted breads because she has a weekend market to bring it to tomorrow.

I think it is a little drop of blessing in this big busy city, catching bread while it’s hot, something that is quite normal in small provinces like the one I am from. So yes, God bless bread, and ladies like Gng. Bukid who bake them with hand and heart late into the night. Especially on a rainy Saturday like this. She also makes an earthy Honey Whole Wheat that I love eating as a sandwich for breakfast (when I am up early enough for that) or just about any other time of the day actually — two slabs of it toasted and with a messy plop of egg salad in between. I can seriously taste it already and at the rate I am going I think I will most likely wait for 11 p.m. to come.

Right now a part of me is also contemplating whether or not I should go ahead and watch Gossip Girl until sleep finds me, or read a book from the fresh batch that just came in from the order I placed with Amazon. I have two titles that I cannot wait to read; in fact, I almost do not want to start on them because I already know that I will love them and read through them so quick it will be nothing short of sad for me when I reach the last page. Do you ever feel that way sometimes about books? Or food, or very nice evenings for that matter? You want to soak it all in slowly, and very gently at that, as if haste in any shape or form will shatter its spell, in the hope of stretching it and making it just go on, and on, and on…

Sigh. My thoughts are now shifting to bacon, cooked in its own fat, on a heap of hot white rice, easily my favorite comfort food. Juliana and I love that so, except that she likes hers crispy and I like mine floppy, like strips of gross-grain ribbon yet to be wrapped around gifts. I am definitely having that for lunch tomorrow, that much I already know. I’m quite good during weekdays, with my yoga and dance and healthy servings of fruit and vegetables and not very much meat, but on weekends I give myself license to cheat. I will eat anything I want, and as much of it as I want. For dessert, I feel now that I will mostly crave some homey and simple sponge cake, maybe a couple of mamon from Goldilocks that I adore. It melts in the mouth, and is best when you just hold it with three fingers — middle finger, pointer and thumb — and just bite into it, lips and teeth sinking simultaneously into the cushiony, sweet softness. I’m sure my cheating over the weekend will not make a dent in the five days that I do practice moderation and restraint with my food intake. If someone out there believes otherwise, kindly please make that thought stop with you. I do not wish to know what you know. I am happy enough in this bubble, believing what I do about food and my license to enjoy its glorious excess every once in a while.

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If I do happen to wake up much too early tomorrow, by Sunday standards at least, I’m sure I will immediately know that it will have been nothing short of a mistake, and that I must absolutely curl back into a ball under the sheets and sleep again, a very welcome treat especially with the slushing sound of the rain that I love so much outside my bedroom window. I do love this wet, bed-warm weather. I will put on the new Tony Bennett album I bought (entitled “Essence of Tony Bennett”) played on “repeat” mode and just allow myself and my thoughts to lounge around lazily all the way the whole day, pretty much like the way Mr. I-Left-My-Heart-In-San-Francisco wonderfully sings, and as I, or anyone for that matter, rightfully should on a delicious weekend like this.

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P.S. If I have, in any way, sent you off craving Gng. Bukid’s Challah bread or her Honey Whole Wheat, I am sharing with you her contact numbers. I have never met her yet, but I do love her bread. If only for that I know I like her already. Call 815-4552 or 474-2600.

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P.P.S. I have another announcement for you, this time of the spiritual kind. There will be a Centering Prayer Workshop again on June 20. For those who have no idea what Centering Prayer is, very simply said think of it as God wooing you closer to him, with love and in love. It promises to be another beautiful Saturday. Please try to make it. It’s on Saturday, June 20, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at St. John Bosco Parish, Roozen Hall, Arnaiz, cor. Amorsolo St., Makati City. Call Contemplative Outreach Secretariat at 501-5231 for details or e-mail cop.secretariat@gmail.com.

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