Lifelong Learning Doesn’t Just Mean Books

The very first siopao I've made! (Be proud, ancestors!)
[Week 3] The very first siopao I’ve made! (Be proud, ancestors!)
The primary reason I love being in the academe is the promise of lifelong learning, not just by reading and publishing papers, but by teaching and becoming part of students’ lives. That said, lifelong learning shouldn’t just be about book-knowledge, but about everything. Life is too short to spend it doing nothing, and even though YOLO gets quite a bad rap, at its core it’s carpe diem— and who can argue with Latin?

As for myself, my biggest fear is stagnating. I can’t bear to think of not learning something new or trying something different each day, because I can’t know which day will be my last. A sobering thought, yes, but let’s not fight the finiteness of life.

Which brings me to dimsum.

I have wanted to learn how to make dimsum ever since I was a little girl discovering the cart stacked high with bamboo steamer baskets for the very first time. Siopao, siomai, kikiam, hakaw, spareribs, and those deep-fried bread sticks whose name I keep forgetting— I love them all! Perhaps it’s my Chineseness, perhaps they’re just delicious, whatever the reason I wanted to learn how to cook dimsum. Which brought me to Sylvia Reynoso Gala’s Culinary Art Studio and which lead to my meeting the kindest and most inspiring chef, Tita Sylvia.

Tita Sylvia not only taught us what we came there to learn, which is to say a lot of recipes, but took me aside and taught me “how to cut like a chef.” She gave me a crash course in how to use different kinds of knives, and how to Julienne and to Chiffonade and to Brunoise.

She let all of us cook the recipes and was very forgiving, even going so far as to say we shouldn’t be worried if we break anything, just make sure the food is good. She would regale us with stories of her youth, and her family, and always give wise words such as “beware Italian men!” I learned so much more than how to make dimsum in her class, and how I wish I could have stayed longer.

Another perk to all of this moving between countries is that I do things that I want to do, because I have to. Because if I don’t, there just won’t be any time left. Dearest Tita Sylvia, perhaps you’ll have time to give me a crash course when I visit Manila again.


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