Sweet Abundance: Food for the Stomach and Soul
By Kay Habana
Thursday night of last week, I had the privilege to render a few songs in a Fashion Show event at the Sri Lanka Missions to the United Nations to benefit breast cancer awareness which is celebrated in October. As I perused the room, I saw different faces; different personalities.
Runway models, designers, dignitaries, diplomats, photographers, talent agents and managers, small and big business owners, producers, mothers, children, only to name so much. It was heartwarming to see people from different walks of life come together for a good cause.
It was a good reminder that amidst the extremely busy city of New York, people still take the time to pause and countenance that which is worthy of our time, attention, and love. Never mind that it was a struggle getting to the city on time. I had left home way too early to allow delays from traffic. Still, I was on the road for an hour. I live only 15 minutes away. I got in on time. But I literally had no moment to compose myself from the time I came out of the elevator to when I was called to sing. Well, such thing happens, but thankfully, not often.
Friday came. Early morning, I was out and about, finishing last-minute errands for what would be a huge catering gig two days later. I expected crowded grocery stores and busy streets because of preparations for Halloween night. Oh, and on that note, I don’t celebrate Halloween. I never did. Nevertheless, I had fun seeing kids and grownups in costume, some, too ready to trick-or-treat at 9 o’clock in the morning. Haha!
Normally, I would have my list in front of me as I browse the grocery shelves. But, I didn’t, reason I hated myself for five minutes. I got over it quickly. I had to. I had no time to argue with my inner voice. I managed to get everything I needed. I paid and left the store, hastily.
At home, my kitchen looks like a small grocery and produce stand. I stared at my veggies, meats, pasta, eggs, herbs, the list went on. I took a deep breath upon asking myself, “what now?” I blinked, twice. Then, I asked myself again, “how and where do I start?”
Yes, these are the first two questions I always ask myself. However, I don’t really struggle with finding the answers. It takes only a few minutes thereafter when I would feel the surge of adrenalin and get excited over the thought of me spending the day in the kitchen and cooking the hours away.
Once I hear the subtle pop of heated oil in the frying pan…as soon as the beguiling aroma of the browning garlic lurks into my nostrils, I just get lost in my own little world. Well, sort of, but not really. All that would be entirely true if cooking was my sole concern that weekend.
However, I also had to rehearse for singing. So, whilst all the cooking was taking place, I docked my phone on the kitchen counter and played my tunes. I felt sorry for the neighbor, really. They had to endure my loud singing and even louder pounding when I cut my meats as if I were striking the gavel in a courtroom. My cats would usually enjoy the first ten minutes of my vocal exercise, endure the next five, and leave without looking back.
Okay. An hour of vocal warm up is usually good, for a start. I would normally resume with rehearsal when I’m all settled and I have nothing else to do but just, sing.
Halloween night came to pass. No trick-or-treat. I just got my chores done, assured myself of ample rest, and looked forward to another day of cooking and singing.
Funny how Saturday went so fast with all the salad preparations and pre-cooking that had to be done. By Saturday afternoon, my desserts (pandan and cassava cake) were all made and ready to be chilled. The following are a few of the dishes I had prepared for Sunday’s event: Imbutido, Palabok, Escabeche, Fried Chicken Wings, Italian Cold Pasta Salad, Veggie Lumpia, Steamed Okra, Egg Salad Sandwiches, Bicol Express, Beef Broccoli, Chicken Teriyaki, Beef Caldereta, Shrimp Fried Rice, and Crab Fried Rice. Everything was prepared and cooked with love and seasoned with a warm smile.
Then, Sunday morning came, and a gorgeous one at that. Thanks to Daylight Saving Time, I was secured of a nine-hour sleep the night before, much needed in order for me to sing well. I was feeling out my throat when I woke up and it didn’t feel it was in its best condition.
I resorted to a hot cup of ginger tea to relieve my throat of itch and congestion. Unfortunately, no matter how careful I am with my voice, singing becomes an instant struggle when synchronous with asthma. Most certainly, I can only ultimately rely on God’s sustaining graces to supply me with strength and literal voice at times when I know to myself I don’t have what it takes. And truthfully, yes, it takes training, knowledge, passion, talent, determination, inspiration, and many other elements that make for an excellent singing. But, truthfully also, there will be those days when all the aforementioned lie dormant and only hide behind the greatness of God and Him being the only Giver of voice. I would much rather rely on the latter, because He has proven Himself and His might to me, time and time again.
All set. Foods loaded in the vehicle. I had previously planned to leave two hours early on what would normally be a 20-minute ride because of the NYC Marathon happening that day. Thankfully, I got to the venue an hour early. It gave me enough time to unload and set up. I was also able to relax before it was my time to sing.
It was my good friend Adolfo Novio’s Diaconate Ordination, as well as his sister’s wedding anniversary. How lovely to have been part of these warm and blessed celebrations. It was really an honor for me to have been asked to cater these events and to sing “Panis Angelicus” during Communion. Thank you, Lord, for giving me voice, that, I was able to deliver one of my favorite songs to sing. And what joy to sing in prayer!
All the fun and eating were taking place, downstairs. My servers and I were all prepared to cater to the needs of the guests. It was wonderful to see the happy faces of both children and grown-ups, exchanging their glow to one another. I, on the other hand, was quietly fulfilled. Adolfo, his family, and their guests were very pleased with how the event turned out. They also found the foods to be delicious. Upon witnessing how each of my servers took the initiative to do beyond their respective responsibilities, I couldn’t be any happier. The Thursday-to-Sunday course of affairs was indeed a thrill. I feel so blessed.