Pandemic paradise: Prawns, shells, gratitude

It was a terrific day in pandemic paradise in the Philippines.

My two biggest highlights: a great beach walk with lots of shells collected, and a fabulous dinner of fresh prawns cooked by Tedly.

Fresh prawns

Check this out: a dozen fresh, giant prawns for the equivalent of $10. A total splurge, and totally worth it. Our friends at the Hangout Beach Resort hooked us up!

The prawns were delicious. And I can’t believe I’m writing that — a few years ago, I wouldn’t eat them because I was a vegetarian. Tedly

cooked them to the perfect texture, and they were flavored with salted beans, fresh lemon, and probably other spices, too.

He served us the prawns on noodles and a bed of veggies that included gifted okra from the Hangout Beach Resort organic garden.

Tedly prepares a meal for us almost every night in our apartment rental at the Hangout. He cooks up something for me and Diane that is nutritious and delicious — with limited access to ingredients.

For example, tonight we had real butter with our prawns — and it was a treat. It’s expensive here, and not widely available.

Personal chef

Tedly has become quite the chef since our Philippine Quarantine a few months ago. Even though we are no longer on strict lockdown, we haven’t been eating at restaurants this month. Tedly has practiced his food preparation skills.

One night, he made his version of mac ‘n cheese casserole. It was a wonderful comfort food and we had leftovers that were almost even better. Another recent night, we had a light, white fish, cooked to perfection. Tedly also makes a great fish steak, perfect pasta, and lots of other dishes.

I still don’t eat pork, and probably never will. So when he makes pork chops for himself and Mom Diane, Tedly always has something special for me. I could never make two main dishes (let alone one!), in addition to all the side dishes he whips up like salads, stir fry, rice, noodles, etc.

Since I don’t cook, the most I ever do for him these days is make him some instant oatmeal with cut up fruit. I do the dishes most nights, however, while Tedly heads up to the roof to catch a breeze with his beer.

I’ll make reservations for a date night sometime soon. Restaurants are not open like they used to be, but reservations for a private serving are possible.

One option is the Hangout Beach Resort – which always has tasty food and a sea view from the upper level of the restaurant. Another option is Balay Tadyaw – a really cool cafe with real coffee. A third option: two date nights – one at each place.

And why not? As Tedly pointed out: we used to eat out a majority of evenings. But that stopped when this pandemic started. And, after all, life is now.

Beach walk

I was lucky enough to have another long, leisurely beach walk as the main event of my day. There are always interesting shells on this beach.

Unlike White Beach at Boracay, the Motag and Balusbos beaches are dark sand, and rocky. There are a few coral chunks, off shore, but it’s mostly rocks and sand. So any shells that wash ashore intact – and not busted by the rocks – are that much more beautiful.

I tried to cool off in the water – it was so hot today! A passing rain shower felt great. I waved to children who’ve seen me enough that by now they call me by my name.

Today’s stroll took me a long time because I went slowly, and stopped to talk to some people.

One man wanted to know if I was American, and if Mom Diane was my mom. He said he sees her walking the beach every day, and “she’s slim and able-bodied.” This gentleman, himself about 65 years old, nearly fell over when I told him she’s 81 years young.

Grateful

There are so many people struggling to survive here in this ‘pandemic paradise.’ Tourism jobs are gone, and people have no income.

While I stroll around collecting shells, people who’ve never had to fish in order to eat, are now casting nets.

I do not know who caught the prawns we enjoyed at dinnertime tonight, but I am so grateful we were able to have them.

Thanks for reading, “Pandemic paradise: Prawns, shells, gratitude.”

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Pandemic paradise: Prawns, shells, gratitude

6 thoughts on “Pandemic paradise: Prawns, shells, gratitude

  1. Interesting read Ellen. The water at our beaches here are still freezing (60 degrees), and just getting through the red algae bloom. I wish I liked sautéed shrimp. I cook it for my husband with garlic and white wine. It smells wonderful but I can’t bring myself to eat it because of the texture. I love coconut shrimp though! I don’t eat pork or beef either…

  2. Nice report, Ellen. I’m glad to hear you are all eating so well—thanks to Chef Tedly. I’m grateful that the community there has been so accepting to you all.

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