There is something so enticing about a parcel wrapped in brown paper...I'm sorry that the US Post Office has taken against the practice of mailing packages in paper tied with string. I'm sure they have their reasons. But an indefinable element of anticipation is lost, I think. Then again, I have also been known to advocate the use of sealing wax on the string, so you can see that I am not necessarily practical in these matters.
My inviting brown paper package, with green customs label and official stamps, arrived Friday, but I was at work then, so I went to the post office yesterday to collect it. It was compact, but very heavy for its size. I enjoyed looking at it on the bus on the way home, and wondering what was inside. It was from the Philippines, but I knew no more, because the list on the customs label was very tiny, and I couldn't decipher it.
My package was from my generous and delightful Blogging By Mail partner, Kai, who lives in Pangasinan, in the northwest part of Luzon, the main island of the Philippine archipelago. In addition to wonderful food and music, the box also apparently contained some residual sunshine. In her very interesting and detailed letter, Kai said that her gifts came with wishes for some tropical warmth, in anticipation of our spring. While it would be an exaggeration to call the day warm, the sun has been shining very brightly, as it hasn't for some time. I've taken my photo of the goodies on the front porch, so you can see that there is actual sunshine involved.
As I type this, I am sipping a cup of pito-pito, a local (local to Kai, that is, not Pittsburgh) traditional tea which contains seven endemic herbs and medicinal leaves, and has a myriad of uses, including an infusion added to bath water(!) It has a hearty, slightly smoky, but not too heavy flavor, somewhat reminiscent of the soothing chinese puer teas, though this has no tea leaves in it. I had better not get too fond of it, as I will probably not find it in Pittsburgh shops. I also have:
A sample of bangus, or "milkfish" in a can. The pangasianan bangus is specially prized for its sweetness.
Mango chews-These are lovely and soft-not super chewy like apricot leather, and very mango-y. They are delicious-and almost gone already.
a jar of katiba- a coconut jam, to be eaten with a dense bread, with or without butter-Kai likes it mixed with butter
Packets of instant mixes for several popular local dishes, to be sampled for an idea of what they taste like, together with recipes for the real thing "much, much better." These include:
champorado- a chocolate flavored porridge, and
ginataang mais-rice and corn cooked in coconut milk
sandwich cookies made by a local company which has long been preparing and selling popular snacks
There's also music- two sorts: the Asian album of a "popular local alternative rock band"-"living legends in the Philippines", who got their start at the university of the Philippines, where Kai studied; and the first album of the Bohol Children's Choir, with a sampling of Filipino childrens' songs and folk songs. Kai has herself been singing in choirs since she was small, and the conductor of this choir is the mother of her good friend.
I am looking forward to trying everything here, and feeling very lucky indeed to have received this package and letter. I'm off to play my new cds, and try some katiba on my breakfast toast. Many thanks, Kai.