Malthus nightmare, a short story

I came across this short story on my wide searches for weeds-related material, and i loved the recepies in it, very ironic!

Written by Guillermo Ramos and published in his Blog in August 2006.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to characters and events in this story is purely coincidental. The author is not responsible for any injury or mass poisoning that may result from trying these recipes. However, he will nominate you for a Darwin Award.

Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence only increases in an arithmetical ratio. – Thomas Robert Malthus

After decades of political turmoil and natural catastrophes, the citizens of the Philippines became indifferent to the dramas that unfolded before their eyes on a daily basis. Their primary and only concern was Survival. Basically, they just wanted something to eat.

The great storm of March 2015 had caused severe flooding in the Central Plains, destroying the greater part of the crop that was due to be harvested in a few weeks. In November 2016, parliament cut the farm subsidy by 75 percent and diverted it to the privately-owned National Food Corporation, which then used the funds to import rice from Vietnam and Cambodia. Local farmers reacted by barricading the main routes into Metro Manila, preventing the transport of food from the provinces to the capital, and triggering two months of food riots.

But the food security crisis had begun even earlier, in 2011, with the founding of the Asean Union (AU) and the ratification of the Kota Kinabalu Treaty, which lifted border controls between the member states, allowing AU citizens to travel and trade freely within the region. The Philippine Government headed by Shanghai University-educated Prime Minister Marvin Roces Gotomco, had enthusiastically lobbied for the ratification of the treaty, which was signed in under three hours. The young prime minister had little choice—he had virtually sold his country to China and South Korea, allowing them to dominate the market with their cheap products. Under his leadership Mandarin Chinese had become a required subject in Philippine schools, although it was pidgin or “Palengke Mandarin” that had caught on, especially among small children. This was due in large part to the popularity of Taiwanese telenovela starlet Cori Kom Sung, the prime minister’s paramour. Ms. Sung was also responsible for the bird flu epidemic, which had wiped out the entire balut (duck egg) industry in Pateros—the dreaded H5N1 virus had arrived with her smuggled collection of exotic birds.

Prime Minister Gotomco had no comprehensive food program for the country. Famine and mass migration depleted the Philippine population from 110 million in 2009 to 60 million in 2019. Only those who did not have the skills or education to relocate abroad remained in the country. That they managed to survive at all is amazing, considering the number of potentially fatal toxins in the little food they lived on. Apparently constant exposure to harmful microorganisms had rendered them immune to disease. These are the people who constitute the current labor force. They speak Palengke Mandarin, but as they cannot read or write Mandarin, their prospects for economic advancement are nonexistent.

A survey conducted in January 2020 by the Department of Nutrition and Food Security of the Asean Union University, Los Baños campus, shows that marginalized Filipinos have managed to survive through resourcefulness and what could only be termed “culinary innovation”. Traditional Filipino dishes such as adobo, kare-kare, and afritada disappeared at the end of the 20th century, and were replaced with comestibles made from noodles and peanuts.

Noodles are the main source of carbohydrates, while peanuts fill the protein requiremnt. The noodles are made of common plants and weeds, and their preparation is an art and science in itself. Soya flour (Fabaceae glycin max) is mixed with makahiya leaves (Mimosa pudica), tree bark, and flowers from the banaba tree (Lagerstroemia speciosa). Soya beans contain antioxidants which protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. These free radicals are believed to cause many cancers and premature aging. Soya beans contain natural plant hormones known as isoflavones. These isoflavones are also called phytoestrogens. The phytoestrogens are similar to the estrogens that our bodies produce naturally.

The dried Soya beans are boiled together with the makahiya leaves, tree bark and banaba flowers until the water evaporates but the mixture is not completely dry. The slurry is then forced into a sieve to further smoothen its consistency. The resulting paste is spread thinly over a tarpaulin sheet—stolen from the billboards in the metropolis—to air-dry. After three days, the pasta—which is of a slate gray color similar to a dead squid’s tentacles—is ready to be cut into ribbons with a pair of scissors. The pasta is kept in an airtight bottle or boiled straight away. Refrigeration is not needed.

Pesto has become the sauce of choice, again thanks to the popularity of Cori Kom Sung’s telenovela, The Secret Life of Cris Yaquino. In it Ms. Sung plays Margot Forbes, the celebrity chef who seduces Cris Yaquino’s husband by feeding him her secret recipes. Every episode features a new recipe between the melodramatic hair-pulling and slapping sequences. The show’s formula for success is simple: whenever Margot starts to make pesto, it means a torrid love scene is soon to follow. The telenovela’s popularity peaked when Cori Kom Sung, escorted by the Prime Minister, attended the Bituin Awards for Television wearing nothing but a layer of green paste smeared over her body. The entire nation went berserk. The sensational photograph of Ms. Sung in pesto landed on page two of the UK’s Daily Telegraph and became the most downloaded image on yagoogle.com for months. Thus did pesto make its way into the hearts and stomachs of the Filipino people.

Of course, the Filipinos call it pesto, but it does not utilize the ingredients traditionally associated with the sauce. The local version looks like nuclear waste swamp water, and it tastes like nuclear waste swamp water. It does not matter, as the important thing is to recreate the drama that surrounds Margot Forbes on The Secret Life of Cris Yaquino. The preparation of the pesto begins with the gathering of gumamela flower (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) and bugambilya leaves (Bougainvillea spectabilis). The flowers and leaves are washed, mixed with pork drippings and kerosene, and subjected to severe maceration with a mortar and pestle. Since the gumamela flower is related to okra, once pulped, it yields a sticky mucous substance that gives the sauce the right body and consistency. The bugambilya leaves provide the herb flavor, thanks to their high chlorophyll content. Dust is used as a substitute for pepper, and since salt is widely available, one uses it sparingly. The magic ingredient, kerosene, causes the diners to become giddy and lightheaded, encouraging them to pledge their red-hot passion for each other until death. Which follows soon enough. To complete the meal, there are ground peanuts for protein, and ant eggs as Parmesan cheese substitute.

Not everyone was enamored of Cori Kom Sung. Her most vocal critic was Melchor Macapangpang, scientist and visionary, who condemned her for destroying the balut industry in his native Pateros. Macapangpang attempted to revitalize the balut industry fusing DNA obtained from a duck feather with his own sperm. The result was a mutated balut—a half-duck, half-man embryo in a shell. Following this failure, which was widely denounced as an abomination and a crime against nature, Macapangpang fled to the Netherlands. There he developed a lasting solution to world hunger using tulips and wooden clogs, and was awarded the Nobel Prizes in Biology and Peace. He now resides in Oslo with his wife Liza Wittgenstein, who is half-Danish and half-Doberman.

At the height of the mass migration which seriously reduced the population in the 2010′s, a few rich people opted to stay in the country. Rather, they were too stoned, drunk, inbred-stupid, disconnected from reality, or all of the above, to notice that everyone was leaving. Today these rich people are afflicted with Affluenza, the unbalanced and dysfunctional relationship of rich people towards their money. Its symptoms include feelings of insecurity and emptiness, unfulfilled sex lives, and general stupidity. When low self-esteem and status anxiety set in, there is a drink they whip up in order to end their suffering. Literally. This marvelous beverage is the Luxe Sarsaparilla Float.

45 grams of cocaine, sulfanilamide, and lysergic acid diethylamide are blitzed with a shot of Stolichnaya Vodka, Sarsi and egg. This is poured over two scoops of the most expensive imported Belgian Chocolate Ice Cream in a large goblet. For the sprinkles, strips cut out of Manolo Blahnik shoes and a handful of Swarovski crystals are immersed in water and mixed with plenty of raw sugar until sticky. The resulting mixture is baked in the oven for 40 minutes at 350 degrees Centigrade, until the leather and crystals smell like burning rubber. There have been reports of horrific esophagial damage following consumption of this dessert drink, but these reports are all unconfirmed, as the drinkers are dead.

Peanuts have replaced rice as the main produce of the islands. Since it is a sturdy root crop and a major source of protein, subsistence farmers cultivate it on the few remaining lands that have not yet been converted into export processing zones. With their usual sense of culinary innovation, Filipinos developed a new recipe using peanuts, the Choc-Nut Super Yema. Before long, the manufacture of Choc-Nut Super Yema became the most popular cottage industry in the country. When the government realized the viability of this industry, it quickly moved to control and regulate peanut production and processing by creating the National Cottage Industry Regulatory Administration (NACIRA). NACIRA organized a national trade fair at the Boom na Boom Cultural Complex on Estrada Boulevard in Pasay. “Ang Mani ni Inay: Kasagutan sa Gutom ng Bayan” (Mother’s Peanuts: The Answer to the Country’s Hunger) was the first national convention of peanut farmers and Choc-Nut Super Yema manufacturers. More than a thousand Choc-Nut Super Yema manufacturers from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi contributed to build the world’s tallest Choc-Nut Super Yema Tower within the Boom na Boom Cultural Complex. Measuring five kilometers in height, the Choc-Nut Super Yema Tower was cited by the Guinness Book of Records as the tallest man-made structure ever build entirely of food.

During the opening rites of Ang Mani ni Inay, the National Commission for Culture and Information conferred the National Artiste Award for Culinary Arts, to Aling Rosita Maloloy-on, the 103-year old grandmother from Miag-ao, Iloilo, and the alleged inventor of the Choc-Nut Super Yema. Aling Rosita, a retired nurse and overseas contract worker, concocted this famous recipe while she was working in Dublin, Ireland. “It was purely an accident,” she recalls. “I asked my sister to send me some Choc-Nut, because I missed it so much and it reminded me of home.” One day she was assisting an Irish patient who had problems lactating when the milk pump attached to the patient’s breast suddenly exploded and torrents of breast milk gushed all over the place, including the sterilizer, which contained lukewarm water and vinegar for cleaning. As Maloloy-on was cleaning the sterilizer, morsels of the Choc-Nut she was eating fell in, and the breast milk and crumbs of Choc-Nut started to coagulate. She scraped out the gooey substance with her fingers, and it smelled so good that she had to have a taste. Thus the Choc-Nut Super Yema was born. Maloloy-on packed her bags and returned to the Philippines to establish the first Yema Factory in Iloilo. Prior to her National Artiste Award, she was given the Ricky Reyes Foundation Award for Entrepreneurship. She has also been on the covers of many magazines, notably the Spanish food magazine Sabor and Manila Envelope, for her exemplary commitment to the promotion of the Philippine Culinary Tradition.

The following recipe is courtesy of Aling Rosita’s blog (www.superyema.com). Leave five cups of freshly squeezed mother’s milk overnight to ferment. Heat water in a large earthenware pot on a charcoal stove. Do not boil. As soon as the water reaches a comfortable warmth, place two tablespoons of vinegar. Slowly pour a cup of breast milk into the solution, along with half a cup of Choc-Nut crumbs. With your bare fingers, help the breast milk and the crumbs coagulate and form it into balls. Immediately transfer the balls into a vat of salted brine. Continue the process until the breast milk and Choc-Nut is all used up. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, boil a cup of water and mix it with two cups of molasses, one cup of sugar, 100 ml of Methylene Chloride and three teaspoons of Psilocybin, the main psychoactive compound found in magic mushrooms, which will serve as a preservative. Once gluey, flambé the mixture with aceite de manzanilla and high grade Ginebra San Miguel and fold in the balls of breast milk and Choc-Nut. Shape them into little breasts and paint the nipples with burnt amber acrylic paint that resembles melted chocolate. This recipe yields 50 pairs of tiny breasts. This magical dessert has become so famous in Italy that they have adopted it as their own, calling it Monticello del Venus or the Mound of Venus.

This is just a survey of the state of the Philippine culinary art in the year 2020. Like all great cuisines, the evolution of Filipino food is entwined with its culture and politics. Politicians, popular celebrities and foreign influences play vital roles in its development. If Prime Minister Gotomco had not been a rapacious, horny idiot, the people would not have had to experiment with non-traditional food sources. If Cori Kom Sung had not smuggled in the H5N1 virus with her exotic birds, Melchor Macapangpang would not have garnered his two Nobel Prizes. Were it not for the massive popularity of Cori Kom Sung, the Filipino masses would not know what pesto is. And if Aling Rosita Maloloy-on had not been chewing Choc-Nut when the breast pump exploded, the world would have been deprived of a culinary masterpiece.

About info

Diego Bonetto is a multimedia artist living and practicing in Sydney, Australia, and is a key member of artists' collectives SquatSpace and the BigFAGPress. -The SquatSpace collective has been producing ground-breaking events and projects since 2000. The group has been curated in a number of shows both in Australia and overseas. The current initiatives, the Redfern-Waterloo Tour of beauty (www.squatspace.com/redfern) tackle issues of social representation and the politics of space generated by gentrification. -The BigFagPress (BFP) is a publishing facility housed in Wooloomooloo, Sydney. The BFP is a salvaged 4-tonnes Off-set proof press. The press allows for the creation of countless artworks by keen printmakers and self-started publishers. www.bigfagpress.org Diego has also been working with WeedyConnection, an environmental art campaign. The project involves an online resource (www.weedyconnection.com), short documentary films, cooking shows, blogs, installations, prints, facebook interventions and various site-specific installations in the form of self-guided tours. WeedyConnection tackle the anthropocentric view of what environment should look like. Based on research and data provided by disciplines as far apart as biology, anthropology, paloenthology, social ecology and ethno botany it formulates ethical questions about cultural representation in times of environmental urgency.
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One Response to Malthus nightmare, a short story

  1. Thoughtful and interesting, thank you. I grew up in the philipines but moved to england at such a young age I barely remember anything apart from the delicious food. I finally found some authentic Filipino recipes if you want to take a look, I thought I’d share it with you!

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