So I’ve begun my speciality rotation which is vascular surgery. I confess I knew very little about this specialty beforehand, but I signed up for it since a fourth year told me you get to see amazingly delicate procedures and full on amputations.
Since this is my first real surgery rotation, I had never “scrubbed in” before. Of course operating rooms (OR) are completely sterile since infections are rampant. I’ve heard horror stories of mean attendings and angry scrub nurses in the OR screaming at you for any wrong doing.
Luckily, this was not the case. In fact, all the nurses were Filipino and adored me, insisting I call them tita (auntie) or a-te (big sister). Something about Filipinos makes them flock together. If my parents meet any Filipino at the grocery, at the bank, at a restaurant, they just say Kumusta, boss (hello) and become BFFs.
Of course, I still didn’t know what I was doing. They showed me how to wash my hands properly (10 seconds each side of each finger and palm before moving down the elbow, and always let the water drip off the elbow, never the fingertips.)
Then they handed me a towel to wipe, so I grabbed it like any normal person.
“Anobayan! You can only touch one side of the towel and with only one hand. And make sure you wipe your hands leaning forward.” Oops.
You can’t touch anything above your shoulder (ie scratch your nose), nor let your arms hang at your side, nor have your arms move behind your back because it’s not sterile. Since you can’t wrap your waist tie by yourself, you have to give your belt tie to someone and spin around.
“Anobayan! Spin to the left, the left! Ok.
“Tear off your belt tie right now!” As they ordered me, I tear it off.
“Anobayan! You’re only supposed only tear off one string!” Oh.
Fortunately, my favorite attending seems to have a soft spot for clueless Chinese-Filipina medical students. And there’s nothing more endearing than a professorial 6 ft+ surgeon exclaiming “Anobayan!”with a Greek accent. He always jokes that all Filipinas (nurses and students) in the OR always love to eat, eat, and eat. I confess, when your day starts before 5am, you need two or three breakfasts and miryendas (snacks) just to make it to lunch.
Well, Filipinos are always about meals between meals. Pinoy Pork BBQ (marinated pork on bamboo skewers grilled to perfection), is a common street snack I see in Manila sidewalks, and I’ve wanted to make it forever. Recipe adapted from Fork Spoon Knife.
Fun fact: In the OR, I’ve been pimped on tons of anatomy. Just to blow my mind, I learned, “pork butt” isn’t actually from the butt at all…it’s from the shoulder. The cut “pork shoulder” is above “pork butt”. The actual butt is “ham”. Go figure.
Pork butt comes from the thicker section of the shoulder and has more marbling, ideal for barbeque and pulled pork.
Filipino Pork BBQ
2 lbs pork butt or shoulder, cut into strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup sprite or 7-up
1/4 cup catsup
salt and pepper to taste
Mix the garlic, sugar, soy sauce, sprite, catsup and spices to make to make the sauce. Marinate the strips of pork at least 4 hours or overnight.
Skewer the meat by piercing the meat into the barbecue sticks. Continue until all the meat is used up. Grill the barbecue and cook the meat, basting occasionally until the meat is cooked, around 15 minutes.