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Dreaming Of Dreams: The Minutiae Amid The Pandemic

Dreaming Of Dreams: The Minutiae Amid The Pandemic

Special Features | April 7, 2021
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With time to re-evaluate her dreams, OneMega.com’s Jr. Associate Editor Diane Go shares her newfound appreciation for the simple things, along with her new plans for the year.

Sometimes, I find myself thinking back to the good ol’ days—those days when we can just freely walk outside, dine in at our favorite restaurants, travel to places, and meet friends. Had I known that we’d spend most of our days cooped up at home, I would have cherished that last hug from friends, that last plate of food from the hotel buffet I went to before the lockdown, and even that last moment spent driving through Manila traffic. Yes, the blaring horns, bumpy roads, smoke…all of it.

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My last buffet and foodie event in the Marco Polo Hotel, a day before they announced the first ECQ in 2020.

But all that, it’s just dreams at this point.

The normalcy of going out and being caught up in our day-to-day affairs is something we’ve taken for granted. But now, the idea of “normal” is different. Normal includes donning layers of face masks (I double mask, by the way) and sanitizing everything in sight. Normal includes distanced greetings, the absence of hugs and besos, and celebrations held on Zoom. Normal includes ordering deliveries, hurried grocery trips, and checking up on family and friends through social media or even through classic phone calls.

Dreams, Then And Now

More than a year has passed since the accursed COVID-19 has taken over the country by storm, and it’s been far, far too long. And although there are options for vaccines available—some progress since the constant lockdown and quarantine measures of 2020—there’s still a long way to go until we can safely say that we’re in the clear.

Nevertheless, the time at home has given me the chance to think about my dreams and plans for the year. And not just that—even my aspirations and dreams for the coming years. Aside from factoring in the new idea of normal, my former grand plans now include embracing the mundane, the minutiae…or simply the simplistic joys that I once took for granted.

Pursuing The Write Career Path

My love for writing started in high school, though I’ve initially shelved the idea for a more practical approach: law. That’s why I studied and graduated from the Ateneo with a course in Legal Management, along with a minor in Creative Writing.

Although who would have imagined that in the end, I’d use my minor more than my major, right? After my stint as a Marketing Assistant and many freelance writing jobs (where I wrote for different websites like The Asian Parent or When in Manila), I eventually landed the position as a Jr. Associate Editor in OneMega.com. And as cheesy as that sounds, it’s one of those dreams come true.

Working in a publishing company has always been a goal for me, but the long travel time, the traffic, and the far offices made it seem unattainable. But with the work from home (WFH) option, I don’t need to worry about those setbacks. Now, I can write and edit at home…in peace.

Similarly, you can take advantage of the WFH option to save on travel expenses, to catch up on those extra minutes of sleep, and to spend more time with family and loved ones. And just as I’ve found a home with my former When in Manila family, I do hope to find a home in OneMega.com as well.

Growing my Food (Blog) Baby

Aside from my day job, I too run my own food blog on the side: Fried and Prejudice. Inspired by my love for puns and the classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, this 2016 project has been my passion project—my food baby…literally! It started off as a curated album on Instagram of food that I’ve had abroad—mostly for the perusal of my family and friends, but it soon kicked off into something much, much bigger. Since 2018, restaurants, food brands, and even small businesses have reached out to me to try, take photos of, and write reviews about their food. And it’s just been fun!

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Foodie Event hosted by Sha Tin Courtyard (Photo from Sha Tin Courtyard’s Facebook Page)

Additionally, I’m part of several foodie communities with like-minded food bloggers such as myself. Pre-pandemic, I’d meet some of them, along with other fellow foodies in food meetup events, media launches, grand openings—the works—but all this went into a grinding halt once the COVID cases increased.

Presently, I do get occasional invites to sample food still, but this time, they’re delivered at home. There are both pros and cons to that. On a positive note, the blogging goes on, even in the pandemic. Plus, I don’t need to drive out and spend on gas to get to places. Though on the downside, delivery does affect the quality of some dishes. And instead of having the chefs plate food for you in an artistic way (and taking advantage of pre-made setups or the restaurant’s décor), you need to be the one to reheat and artfully style your food and your setup. This can be both fun and tedious, but sadly repetitive unless you get creative.

Cooking Up a Storm

In line with the food deliveries I’ve been getting, I’ve also been receiving ingredients to play around with. Now, this is new to me since I spent most of my pre-pandemic days eating out more than cooking for myself. But with more time at home and the opportunity to sample and write about frozen ingredients and stuff in jars, I couldn’t let this chance pass. This reawakened my childhood love for cooking, so in my free time, I’ve been cooking up a storm.

Beyond the mess in the kitchen, I’ve made several dishes that are heavily based on my cravings. Some of them are vegetarian—perfect for my Meatless Monday regimen—while others are family recipes, restaurant hacks, or even a fun twist on classic fare. They’re nothing too complicated and very much manageable, even for rookies and lazy cooks such as myself. These recipes can be found on my blog.

Some of my personal favorites include this Fresh Chinese Lumpia recipe, which holds a special place in my heart since it’s a family recipe, while these Cold Noodles are a fun way to use up your leftover pasta (or instant noodles, for that matter).

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Fresh Chinese Lumpia, just like how mom makes it

On the other hand, the Vegan Kare-Kare, Meat-free Burger Steak (modeled after Jollibee’s Burger Steak), and the Meat-free “Chicken” Nuggets in Curry Sauce a la Coco Ichibanya make great vegetarian dishes.

Meat-free Burger Steak with Gravy and Rice
Meat-free “Chicken” Nuggets in Curry

At this point, I’m not in it for the likes or the comments. I just want to use this opportunity to manage my diet better, to eat healthier, and to do what I love: both cook and eat. So if you do give these recipes a try (or if you have suggestions for me in the future), I would be really happy if you’d tag me in them.

But of course, you can be sure that cooking will be a regular thing for me, even after the pandemic. I mean, with a no-beef diet (for religious reasons) and a Meatless Monday regimen that I’m doing my best to follow to a T, I want to be able to cook my food and to learn more. That way, I can increase my repertoire of recipes.

Supporting Small Businesses

The pandemic has given rise to many small businesses—from food trays to bottled drinks, cookies, cakes, and more. Chances are, these are inspired by family recipes or ongoing food trends. And this year, I want to patronize these homemade products more. That way, I get to try something new, show my support, and help out in any way I can.

Currently, my favorites include the Premium Salmon Sashimi Cake and Soft-shell Crab and Ebi Sushi Bake from Salmon HQ, the Tocino Musubi, and Vegan Onigirazu from Musubi Rush, as well as the sinfully delicious Strawberry Shortcake and White Chocolate Macadamia cookies from Amelia’s Recipes. The Strawberry Shortcake is just so light and fluffy, a touch creamy, and so generously peppered with fresh strawberries. As someone who loves strawberry shortcakes, this was an absolute treat!

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Strawberry Shortcake from Amelia’s Recipes

As for the Premium Salmon Sashimi cake…wow, where to begin? From the thick slices of fresh fish to the layers of sushi rice, ebiko, and wakame inside, this cake is a definite must-have for seafood fans. But if you’re not a fan of raw, the ever-so-famous sushi bake (the Soft-shell Crab and Ebi Sushi Bake, to be specific) that comes with sushi rice topped with Kani, soft-shell crab, and shrimp is just as good.

Premium Salmon Sashimi Cake from Salmon HQ
Soft-shell Crab and Ebi Sushi Bake from Salmon HQ

Meanwhile, if you love the sweet and salty action, the Tocino Musubi will do you some good. It’s got garlicky turmeric rice as the base and a slice of sweet Tocino spam to finish things off nicely. I can wax poetic about all these and more, but it’s best experienced firsthand…by eating it yourself, of course.

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Spam Musubi from Musubi Rush (from top to bottom: Kimchi, Original, and Tocino)

It’s fascinating to see what people can whip up and sell during this pandemic, and as a foodie, I can’t wait to try more!

Eating and Drinking Healthy

If there’s anything this pandemic has shown me, it’s that life is fleeting. Sadly, we don’t know who or when diseases will strike, so the next best thing is to build up our immune system.

Aside from cooking my own meals and watching what I eat, I’ve learned to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet. I’ve started drinking more water and I even switched out softdrinks for healthier drinks like Kombucha (Cultur’d, Good Fizz, and Boochamama are my absolute favorites), a probiotic drink that’s good for the gut, or even homemade fruit smoothies and teas like the ones from Pyur or Teatoxify. I’m starting my “teatox” or tea detox with Teatoxify now, so fingers crossed that I get good results from this!

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Additionally, I’ve been cutting out junk food to the best of my abilities and adding more greens to my diet—even going so far as to practice Meatless Mondays to give my stomach a break. As for regulating my body clock and sleeping early? I’ve got my 10 AM day job to thank for that.

I do hope I can maintain this healthy lifestyle for a long time—all the more now with the growing cases and the fact that I’m not getting any younger. But this pandemic has been a clear wake up call for me, and I hope it is for you, too.

Dreaming of Dreams

There’s so much more where that came from. Like a lot of us, I too have dreams of being to go out again, to be able to travel, to eat out, to meet friends, and more…all without masks and acrylic shields to divide us. And that’s rare, coming from an introvert like me! But being in this longstanding pandemic has given us a chance to reevaluate ourselves and how we do things—something we haven’t had the chance to do in the normal hustle and bustle of life.

How about you? What are your dreams?

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