Saturday, October 20, 2007
MANILA - SAGADA - BAGUIO - MANILA
"ANG MAHIWAGANG CARROT CAKE . . . BOW"
(C. and the Hapless Carrot Cake)
My friend and traveling companion, C., is one of those amiable, happy-go-lucky chaps who seem not to mind any favor(s) you ask of them, no matter how inconvenient.
So it was that during our time in Sagada, we were kept occupied looking for the ff. items a friend of his had asked him to buy:
1. Local red rice
2. Chili powder
3. Carrot cake
Alas, items no. 1 and 2 could simply not be found. Helpful store owners advised us to drop by the Saturday morning market, which we did. No luck though.
I did call my Baguio-based friend, S., whom we were scheduled to meet later on in our trip. She quipped that the local Mountain Province rice is actually BROWN, and becomes red in color only once cooked. While this factoid was interesting and all, it was NO help at all in locating the rice!
Weekend market scene in Sagada, with C. doing his search.
Fruits and veggies everywhere, but no red rice and chili powder.
Good thing we had more success with item no. 3, the carrot cake. C.'s friend specified that it should come from the Sagada Cooperative Canteen, located just beside the fire station and some fifteen steps away from St. Mary's Episcopal Church.
The coop is actually nothing more than a small, tin-roofed shack with a few wooden tables. Aside from the carrot cake, they also serve lemon meringue pie (which i tried; it tasted kinda horrible), custard cake (looked yummy), chocolate cake (looked yummy AND too sweet), etc. They do have PHP15.00 hamburgers, which seemed such an absolute bargain that C. bought one and ate it on the spot. His verdict? Well, let's just say you really do get what you pay for.
Anyways, back to the carrot cake. Turns out it has to be ordered one day in advance, and it has to be kept refrigerated, AND it lasts only 3 days before spoiling.
Undeterred, C. reasoned that the cool weather in Sagada and Baguio would act as natural refrigerators, and the bus we would be taking from Baguio to Manila would be airconditioned anyway. Hmm. . . not exactly Einstein-esque, but i couldn't fault his logic.
Thus, the carrot cake was duly ordered, and its carton box bound by thin nylon string picked up the following day, and patiently lugged by C. during our circuitous route down the steep dirt path to get to our Baguio-bound bus. I'm sure he was tempted once or twice to just fling the box to the ground, curse and stomp at it with all his might, but hey, the guy's a saint.
Finally, finally, finally, a warm shower after our 7-hour nail-biting bus ride ordeal from Sagada via the infamous Halsema Highway. This Microtel Inn Baguio isn't so bad at all, it actually looks the same as in the brochures!
I was happily soaking in the warm jets of water when my cellphone suddenly rang. C. (who had decided to take a stroll along Session Road) was calling. The ensuing conversation below:
Me : "Yeah?"
C : (with panic in his voice) "Peter, the cake, the cake!!!"
Me : "What cake?"
C : (snarling) "The carrot cake, you dimwit!"
Me : "Oh yeah. What about it?"
C : "My friend just called. She says it can't be put in the freezer, it has to be in the ref only!"
Me : "Well, we deposited it with the Microtel front desk, diba? And they said they will put it in their fridge."
C : (shrilly, with annoyance in his voice) "Yes, but they also said they might not have space in the fridge and may just put it in their freezer instead!!"
Me : "Really now?"
C : (now ready to kill me) "YES, REALLY!! Can you please go over and check?"
Me : (now in a bad mood) "Huh?! What difference does it make anyway? Eh diba freezing is just like refrigerating, only 10X faster and more powerful? It might actually do wonders for your cake!"
C : (throwing up his hands in exasperation) "Nonsense!! If it's frozen kasi, once it's taken out, it will become moist and watery!"
Me : (reverting into normal smart-ass mode) "Oh, you mean, the gross differential between ambient temperature and normal sub-zero temperature inside the fridge has deleterious effects on the cake's molecular structure, by causing precipitation, thereby afflicting acute gastro-intestinal distress on the end-user?"
C : (buying a broomstick from a vendor with the intent to stick it up my ass) "JUST GET TO IT, okay???!!?"
Me : (meekly and resignedly) "No problemo, you just have to ask, you know."
27 seconds later, at the hotel front desk. . . .
Me : (with panic in my voice) "The cake, the cake!!"
Staff : "What cake, sir?"
Me : "The carrot cake, you dimwit!"
Staff : (staring at this wild-eyed, overweight guest dripping water all over the tiled floor) "Ah, do you have the deposit receipt?"
Me : (handing over the soggy deposit receipt) "Hurry! The cake! It shouldn't be kept in the freezer, only in the refrigerator!!!"
Staff : (squinting to decipher the blurred writing on the receipt) "Err. . .i have to check first, sir. But freezing is just like. . . ."
Me : (cutting him off) "NO!! You have to take it out of the freezer!!! It will become soggy if not!!"
Staff : (hesitating, not remembering what the employee guidebook mentioned about carrot cakes) "Ahh. . .err. . .hmm. . ."
Me : (doing my best Jack Nicholson scowl) "Are we clear?"
Staff : (in a tiny voice) "Ahh. . .yess. . ."
Me : (getting the hang of my pseudo-Jack Nicholson scowl) "I said, are we clear??"
Staff : (resignedly) "Sir, yes. Crystal."
46 seconds later, the staffer returns. . . .
Staff : "Sir, we confirm that your cake was placed on the third level of our ref, not in the freezer."
Me : "Oh? Are you sure?"
Staff : (smiling smugly) "Yes, sir."
Me : (in a demanding tone) "Can i see it?"
Staff : (ready to press the red button to call Security) "No."
Me : "Ow."
Two hours later, i asked C. if the carrot cake was really as good as advertised. After all, his friend had heaped all sorts of superlative praises on it, short of calling it the greatest thing since sliced bread.
C. just shrugged. It turns out he hates the taste of carrot cake!