I consider myself a very privileged person not because of worldly goods but of worldly experiences that I've had growing up in a beautiful country surrounded by countless pristine white sand beaches.
We often associate a scent or a type of food that we eat with certain memories. For me, some of the happiest memories were collected from family outings at the beach and my honeymoon in Bohol.
I remember when my father was alive, he would often take us to the beach for the weekend in Batangas, Cavite and Quezon since they were the most accessible from Manila. At that time, there were no hotels, just simple nipa hut cottages. As a child, it did not matter to me. I was at the beach, swimming and having fun. As I grew older, started working and eventually got married, I would then explore the more exotic and beautiful beaches of the Philippines. But the memories of those simple childhood beach outings will always be special and cherished.
Nothing reminds more of the beach than eating Lato Salad. Lato is a type of local seaweed that looks like hundreds of minuscule grapes clustered together in one tiny branch. Lato is a true representation of the sea. The tiny grapes smell of the ocean, the taste is slightly salty, the texture, a little slippery. Each lato kernel that bursts in my mouth as I eat it, triggers a memory. A memory of my brother and cousins playing all day in the sand, our skins burned to a crisp, my father and I seated on the shore waiting for the waves to hit us and filling our bathing suits with clumps of sand, my lola in the middle of ankle-deep water in Matabungkay, my mom walking on the shore with my nephew, hubby and I walking hand in hand on the shores of Bohol, my tita teaching us to snorkel in the waters of Dakak. Each tiny little grape is a reminder of the happy times spent on the beach.
I remember also that my dad used to love eating Lato, he called it Aru-rusep and he would tell us that they were grapes from the sea and that they were very nutritious. We did not appreciate it when we were kids but now, I love eating lato, not just because of it's ocean-y taste but also for the memories that they evoke. Hubby loving it is just the icing on the cake.
Lato Salad (for 2)
(The lato must be prepared immediately after you buy it. It will not do well in the fridge.)
1/4 Kilo lato
1 small red onion, sliced thinly (optional)
1 small cucumber, peeled and sliced
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
White distilled Vinegar
1. Be careful with handling lato for their bruise easily. wash the lato with cold or tap water, snip off the dark stems, leaving only the stems with the "grapes", drain well. Very carefully toss with cucumber, onions and tomatoes. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, salt pepper and sugar. Mix well. Drizzle over the lato right before serving.
Now, wouldn't you want to evoke some beach memories too?