My father is a small time farmer who has a taste for exotic foods. Each month, he has a list of rare recipes. For example, last January, he caught a big monitor lizard which he cooked into an aromatic adobo. I never tried to imagine myself the secrets of his cooking and the condiments that excited our nostrils with that mouth-watering aroma. My tour in the kitchen did not end there. In our typical nipa hut with an adjoining shelter as kitchen, I used to notice a foot-long bamboo receptacle resembling a rain maker hung on the wall, bound with abaca rope long enough to be tied around my waist.
I asked mother what was it and she told me it was a salagubang container. It had a matching cover made out of wider-girth bamboo. Ah, that luscious salagubang! I am only able to taste you once a year. The last time was in May. Summer rain came in great volumes.
Soon planting corn began and my odyssey to eating salagubang started. Father told me that a good catch usually occur during good weather. One evening, he walked with my two older brothers, Earl, 21 and Joe, 19 towards the usual cornfield where I helped my brothers pick up white grubs during December when plowing the field for second cropping season, to catch some salagubang.
They brought with them catching nets attached to wooden handles and patiently swung them to where the insects landed and flocked. Then they grab as many beetles as they can and put them in their container.
At home after their hunting, Brother Earl had seventy-five and Brother Joe had fifty while father had one hundred. The next morning, we all gathered in the kitchen table with two long benches on both sides carefully watching four pairs of hands grasping beetles from the salagubang container where the insects were still crawling on top of each other, and then skillfully snapping the wings and the six legs of each insect.
The dressed beetles were soon placed in a tin basin. I almost did not close my eyes, did not even manage to wink for a few seconds just to unravel the truth behind the tempting smell as I watched with awe how my father cooked the salagubang. After washing, he boiled the beetles in approximately one-half cup of water and allowed them to dry in the casserole. Sooner he put the frying pan over the stove and put three tablespoons of margarine or butter. The butter allowed melting; he put the minced garlic and onions and waited to become golden brown then sauteed the beetles, adding pinches of salt and black pepper to taste.
We had a scrumptious dinner. I ate as many as I can of these delicious beetles. I felt an unusual sensation as I took a bite at its head, which made me crave for another at the abdomen then after, I continued chewing the whole thing in my mouth and swallowed it well with satisfaction. After eating, I could still remember the inviting smell and the buttery, salty taste of this crunchy little creature I just consumed. I still could not move on from its unusual flavor that played inside my mouth which fulfilled the desire of my taste buds. Ah, that luscious salagubang! I hope to taste you once again.