Do Clothes Maketh The Man?

If you plan to visit a Department of Foreign Affairs passport office wearing shorts, be prepared to be turned away.

In our hot and humid climate shorts are far more comfortable than long pants, but at the DFA they’re banned.

Sorry Michael Douglas - no entry

Sorry Michael Douglas – no entry

The DFA has strict rules on how their customers should dress. Their policy states: “no slippers, no sandos, no shorts, no spaghetti-strapped blouses (whatever they are), no micro-mini skirts.”

In this day and age it seems odd that the DFA should have such Draconian rules. It got me thinking about how other countries tackle the issue of what people should wear when visiting government offices?

After some brief research, it seems the Philippines might be unique in this regard. There’s no dress code for visitors to government offices in Hong Kong, Singapore or Australia. And, in the US, they wouldn’t dare for fear of a lawsuit.

So why here?

Of course one could always challenge the rules. A 12 year-old British boy did just that a while ago when he wore a skirt to school in protest against rules which ban boys from wearing shorts.

Chris Whitehead wore a girls’ knee-length skirt to classes as a protest against his school’s strict uniform policy which bans boys from wearing shorts during the hot summer months.

Please come in

Please come in

He also addressed 1,368 pupils at morning assembly wearing the black skirt, which boys are permitted to wear due to a loophole in the policy.

He said: ”In the summer girl students are allowed to wear skirts but boys are not allowed to wear shorts”.

Headteacher Robert Campbell said the ban on shorts was imposed following consultation with students, teachers and parents.

But he added: ‘What Chris has done is raise the issue in an entirely legitimate way. I think it will be right to start thinking about uniform again in September.’

And a few years ago a ban on a New Jersey schoolboy wearing flowery skirts to school was overturned after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claimed his rights were being violated.

So what about the DFA? A local official humm’d and ha’d when asked if a man wearing a skirt would be allowed into their offices.

At first the answer was no, but it was pointed out that a kaftan-style dress was de rigueur for many Muslim men and Scottish men wear kilts, which is essentially a long skirt. Finally, the official said men dressed like this would be allowed in.

No issues at the DFA for a Scotsman

No issues at the DFA for a Scotsman

And what about a man dressed in women’s clothes and wearing high heels? Yes, it seems he’d be allowed in too.

A man dressed as a woman - no problem

A man dressed as a woman – no problem

But a man wearing shorts? Perish the thought!

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One hot, one cold

This week I’d like to return to the topic of soups. I’m something of a soup addict and among my favorites are shrimp bisque and Vichyssoise.

An inviting bowel of cool Vichyssoise

An inviting bowel of cool Vichyssoise

Bisque is a smooth, creamy and highly seasoned soup that originated in France.  It can be made from lobster, crab or shrimp.

It has a smooth consistency achieved by pureeing and an alcoholic beverage such as white wine, sherry, or cognac is usually added.

Soaking up the bisque with crusty French bread

Soaking up the bisque with crusty French bread

It’s thought the name is derived from Biscay, as in the Bay of Biscay, which lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border.

Ritz-Carlton in New York - birth place of Vichyssoise

Ritz-Carlton in New York – birth place of Vichyssoise

Although its name is French name, Vichyssoise (visheeswaz) appears to have Its origins in the US. It’s thought to have been created in 1917 by Louis Diat,  a celebrated French chef at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York City.

Celebrated French chef Louis Diat

Celebrated French chef Louis Diat

In a 1950 interview with the New Yorker magazine he said “In the summer of 1917, when I had been at the Ritz seven years, I reflected upon the potato and leek soup of my childhood which my mother and grandmother used to make. I recalled how during the summer my older brother and I used to cool it off by pouring in cold milk and how delicious it was. I resolved to make something of the sort for the patrons of the Ritz”.
Diat named it ‘crème vichyssoise glacée’ (chilled cream vichyssoise),[ after Vichy, a spa town near his birthplace in France that is famous for both its exceptional food and its springs. The new item enjoyed ‘instant success’. American steel magnate, Charles Schwab, was the first to sample vichyssoise and asked for a second serving.

Vichyssoise is not only delicious, but very cooling – just the job in the hot weather we are currently experiencing.

Here are the recipes I use for both soups.

Bon Appétit!

Shrimp Bisque

  • 600gr large shrimp, peeled and deveined (keep the shells and heads)
  • 4 cups seafood stock
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (3 cloves)
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup good quality Cognac or brandy
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 4 tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk cream
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

Place the shrimp shells and seafood stock in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock. Add enough water to make 3 3/4 cups.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the leeks and cook them for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, or until the leeks are tender but not browned. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Add the cayenne pepper and shrimp and cook over medium to low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Cognac and cook for 1 minute, then the sherry and cook for 3 minutes longer. Transfer the shrimp and leeks to a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until coarsely pureed.

In the same saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium-low heat for 1 minute, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the milk and cream and cook, stirring with a whisk, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pureed shrimp, the stock, tomato paste, salt, and pepper and heat gently until hot but not boiling. Season, to taste, and serve hot.

Vichyssoise

2 Leeks, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup thinly sliced potatoes
2 1/3 cups chicken stock
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/8 cups heavy whipping cream

Directions

Gently sweat the chopped leeks and the chopped onion in butter until soft, about 8 minutes. Do NOT let them brown.

Add potatoes and stock to the saucepan. Salt and pepper to taste; do not overdo them. Bring to the boil, and simmer very gently for 30 minutes.

Puree in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Cool. Gently stir in the cream before serving.

Marking the 27th death anniversary of Rafael M Salas

Marking the 27th death anniversary on Monday of Bago City favorite son Rafael M Salas with a wreath laying ceremony at the RMS Youth Center were Bago City officials, family members and trustees of the RMS Library Society. (l-r) Patty Gomez, Atty. Raymundo Pandan, Thelma Watanabe, Raffy Salas, former Bacolod City mayor Joy Valdez, Clrs. Bernadette Soncio and Joy Matti, Bago City mayor Ramon Torres, Amb. Menchu Salas, Clr. Sonya Verdeflor, Philip Abello, Robert Harland

Marking the 27th death anniversary on Monday of Bago City favorite son Rafael M Salas with a wreath laying ceremony at the RMS Youth Center were Bago City officials, family members and trustees of the RMS Library Society. (l-r) Patty Gomez, Atty. Raymundo Pandan, Thelma Watanabe, Raffy Salas, former Bacolod City mayor Joy Valdez, Clrs. Bernadette Soncio and Joy Matti, Bago City mayor Ramon Torres, Amb. Menchu Salas, Clr. Sonya Verdeflor, Philip Abello, Robert Harland

Fastest Ever Production Bentley

The remarkable growth of the Philippines economy is evident by the large number of luxury cars one sees on the roads here. And that’s not just in Manila.

And when I say luxury, I mean real luxury. Thanks to the foresight of a number of astute businessmen, who could see the good times ahead, the luxury car market is booming.

One such successful businessmen is Robert Coyiuto Jr, chairman of  Bentley Manila and PGA cars. He’s built his luxury car business into the biggest of its kind in the country.

A visit to the posh PGA showrooms in Mandaluyong is like stepping into an Aladdin’s cave of the world’s finest automobiles – Bentley, Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini.

Among the many outstanding cars on offer at PGA is the racy and outlandish Bentley Continental GT Speed. Already one of these beauties has been snapped up.

W O Bentley - the man who started it all in 1919

W O Bentley – the man who started it all in 1919

Alas, I’ll never be wealthy enough to own a Bentley Continental, but I’ve always admired the designs Bentley and independent coach builders have come up with over the years for this particular model.

As a child in the 1950s I was really taken with the Bentley Continental fastback coupé body by H J Mulliner. To me, one of the truly classic car designs of all time.

1954 Bentley R-type Continental Fastback

1954 Bentley R-type Continental Fastback

In 1968 I worked as executive assistant to impresario Robert Stigwood, manager of Eric Clapton and the Bee Gees. His pride and joy was a white 1958 Bentley S1 Continental Park Ward Drophead Coupe, once owned by the fabulously wealthy Aga Khan. It was a beautiful car and he would sometimes let me drive it.

So I’ve always had a soft spot for the Continental and was therefore intrigued to hear that this week at the Geneva Motor Show (March 6-16), Bentley will unveil it’s latest Continental GT Speed. The company has added a bit more muscle to the car which it describes as the ‘fastest ever production Bentley’.

The Bentley Continental GT Speed - an electrifying combination of luxury, power and performance.

The Bentley Continental GT Speed – an electrifying combination of luxury, power and performance.

Bentley has increased the two-door’s 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine just a bit. It now packs ten extra horses, up to 626 bhp, along with 605 lb-ft (820 Nm) of torque.

That upgrade gives the car’ a top speed of 331 kph. Zero to 60 mph takes just 4 seconds.

Bentley has also made some minor styling revisions. The front splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser are painted to match the body color for the first time. Red brake calipers peek through the 21-in Speed wheels, which get a dark tint finish, as do the head lamps and tail lamps.

Chrome “Speed” badges on the front fenders and a new Candy Red color option round out the short list of exterior revisions.

Inside, the hand-finished cabin includes diamond-stitched leather upholstery, drilled pedals and a unique shift knob. Owners can also have the ‘engine spin’ metal dashboard trim in a dark grey tint to match the grille insert.

Bentley has used the moniker ‘Speed’ since the 1920s. The high-performance Bentley Speed Six were sports and luxury cars in production from 1926 to 1930. The Speed Six, introduced in 1928, would become the most successful racing Bentley.

Many of these beautiful cars are in private collections around the world. Hong Kong billionaire, Sir Michael Kadoorie, has an exquisite 1930 Bentley Speed Six Mulliner Drop Head Coupe in his extensive car collection.

The Great Scotch Egg Robbery

I was amused by a story in Britain’s Daily Mail last week of how an entire police force in southern England
became the butt of jokes after appealing for witnesses to the theft of a packet of Scotch eggs worth 1.65 British pounds. (Php122).

Scotch egg halved and served with mashed potato, gravy and vegetables

Scotch egg halved and served with mashed potato, gravy and vegetables

A woman was caught on CCTV walking into a shop and picking up these traditional British snacks before eating them and leaving without paying.

The police apparently spent a month investigating the crime before launching an online appeal in a bid to identify the woman.

Scene of the 'great Scotch egg robbery' in southern England

Scene of the ‘great Scotch egg robbery’ in southern England

However, the petty nature of the offence led dozens of web users to mock the force for its over-zealous policing.
Police has now deleted the appeal, after a witness came forward claiming to know who the thief was.

Amusement aside, I was reminded at just how delicious Scotch eggs are – that’s probably why the woman couldn’t resists them.

A Scotch egg consists of a hard boiled egg wrapped in sausage meat, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. There are also mini versions using quail eggs.

Fortnum and Mason, the famous London department store which supplies members of the Royal family, is said to have invented the Scotch egg in 1738.

They are usually a picnic food and home-made, though they can also be served as a main course with gravy and vegetables.

Although it’s a traditional British snack, similar dishes exist around the world including here in the  Philippines. Kwek-kwek are eggs with orange breading sold as street food dipped in vinegar, sweet and sour sauce or gravy.

Kwek Kwek on sale

Kwek Kwek on sale

In the Netherlands and Belgium, Scotch eggs may also be called vogelnestje (‘little bird’s nest’) because they contain an egg.

Brazil also has a dish that is very similar, if not a version, of the Scotch Egg called ‘Bolovo’. It also features an egg in the center but the dough does not contain any meat.

When I’m making pica-pica, this is my Scotch egg recipe.

Scotch eggs - tasty pica-pica a food

Scotch eggs – tasty pica-pica a food

500gr       sausage meat
5              hard boiled eggs, with shells removed
1              large raw egg
Dry breadcrumbs
Pinch of salt, ground pepper, nutmeg
Small quantity of flour
1 tablespoon water

Dust the hard boiled eggs in a little flour. Mix the nutmeg, salt and pepper with the sausage meat and divide into five equal portions. Place on a floured surface. Wrap/mould the sausage meat around the egg, making sure there are no gaps. Beat the egg and water together and coat the meat-covered egg with this and then breadcrumbs (you may have to press the crumbs onto the meat).

Deep fry in hot oil (360F/185C) taking care as you put the eggs into the oil. Cook for about 5/6 minutes. If you don’t have a deep fat fryer, they can be cooked in oil in a frying pan, turning frequently to ensure the meat is fully cooked. Drain and serve hot or allow to cool and keep in a refrigerator for a cold snack later.

English Pork Sausage Meat

1kg          lean pork
500gr       pork belly (fat)
400gr       fresh breadcrumbs
2t             sage
1t             thyme
S&P

The Scotch Egg Challenge takes place in England each year

The Scotch Egg Challenge takes place in England each year

Remove any bones or rind from the pork, and pass through a mincer. Mix in the bread and season generously. Pass through the mincer again. Fry a little of the mixture to test for seasoning adding more herbs and pepper if necessary.

Delicious!

Embracing the Legacy of Rafael M Salas

Rafael M Salas

Rafael M Salas

An illustrious son of Bago City, who rose to international prominence as a leading figure in the United Nations, is to be honored by the city today.

Through a city ordinance, March 3, the 27th death anniversary of scholar, author, poet, statesman and academician, Rafael M Salas, has been declared an annual commemorative celebration of his life and work.
This year’s special day is themed “Embracing the Legacy of Rafael M Salas’.

The day’s activities will include a program of poetry readings, children’s quizzes, a painting competition and  presentations remembering this remarkable man.

For 16 years, until his untimely death in 1987, Salas served as the Under-Secretary-General and first Executive Director of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).

His tenure was an unprecedented success with the UNFPA growing from a small trust fund into the world’s largest multilateral provider of population assistance.

Salas was born in Bago City on August 7, 1928. From a very early age he showed his ‘can-do’ qualities excelling at school and actively participating in school councils.

Rafael M Salas with Pope John Paul 11

Rafael M Salas with Pope John Paul 11

In 1950 while at UP gaining his Bachelor of Arts degrees magna cum laude, and Bachelor of Law degree cum  laude,  he was elected by an overwhelming vote to the post of president of UP Student Council and Philippines Student Councils Association.

He went on to head the Students Magsaysay-for-President Movement. So impressed was Magsaysay that when he became president he created the Presidential Council on Youth with Salas as chairman. Salas was 25 years old.

In 1955 he earned a Master’s degree at Harvard. The succeeding  years were marked by a number of high- level government and business positions. In 1962 he was name as one of the ‘Ten Most Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines.’

In 1966, at the age of 37, he was personally picked by then President Ferdinand E. Marcos as his Executive Secretary to handle administrative and social matters.

Rafael M Salas with President George H W Bush

Rafael M Salas with President George H W Bush

This lofty position was comparable to a prime minister in other countries. In this role, Salas was the chief administrator of the country making him second only to President Marcos in authority.

He immediately set about initiating a series of much-needed reforms that resulted in making the whole workings of the government more efficient.

President Marcos also made Salas the Chief Action Officer of the National Rice Sufficiency Program. He went about his task with his usual enthusiasm and efficiency and succeeded in transforming the Philippines from a rice importer to a rice sufficient country – an event that had not happened in some 80 years.

But in 1969 he quit the Marcos government over major policy disagreements. At the same time, Salas received a renewed offer from the Unite Nations to head up a new agency, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Rafael M Salas with former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

Rafael M Salas with former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

He took up his new position with his usual efficiency and distinctiveness and quickly demonstrated his extraordinary ability to get things done.

Population experts described him as one of a few figures who transformed the obscure field of family planning into an accepted component of developmental science, helping planners overcome initial opposition to population control in underdeveloped, Roman Catholic and Marxist countries.

He was affectionally known as ‘Mr. Population’ by the international community.

In recognition of this achievements, Salas received some 33 honorary degrees and academic awards from institutions in 28 countries.

He died on March 4, 1987 in Washington, DC from an apparent heart attack as he prepared to return to the Philippines shortly after the People Power Revolution of 1986 that swept Marcos from power. It was speculated at the time of his death that Salas would make a run for the presidency of the Philippines.

In a letter of condolence to his family, then Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar said Mr. Salas’s “energy and dynamism were an inspiration to his colleagues and many admirers around the world.”

One of the Filipinos who expressed admiration for Salas was Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile who said: : “Rafael M Salas was, indeed, a true Filipino. He had the depth and the brilliance to transform his country and his people. He is the best president of this country; the best president we never had and will never have.”

Salas was a voracious reader – at least one book a day. He left behind a fascinating library of some 11,000 books which are now housed in the Negros Museum and form the RMS Library Society led by former Bacolod City Mayor Joy Valdez.