Eating with Artists: Marikit Santiago
Marikit Santiago's local cafe is Six Ain't Seven in North Paramatta on the Western outskirts of Sydney.
She breaks away on a work day for a late breakfast and chat with me. Time is everything for this busy artist who is also mum, wife, daughter and sister.
With her inaugural exhibition at Yavuz Gallery, 'My Father's Son' that has just closed, and also having been recently awarded the coveted 2020 Sir John Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, this is a woman who's making waves. More recently, Vault magazine named her in an article entitled: The Future is Female.
Marikit's prize winning status means she is part of numerous interviews, Q&As and an added exposure to the public as journalists scramble to interview her. For the increased activity in her life, I was grateful when Marikit cheerily agreed to see me for this interview.
Tina:Why have you chosen this place to meet?
Marikit: Six Ani't Seven is about a twenty minute walk from our home in North Paramatta. It is our favourite local. On the week-end we will sometimes walk down here as a family, and grab the big table at the back. When Shawn and I come with my sister and her partner we like to get the share breakfast platter which has all the delicious things we like such as eggs, grilled haloumi, foul, olives and shankleesh all served with lebanese bread.
Tina: How do you juggle an art practice with three small children?
Marikit: I am so lucky to have both Shawn's and my parents living about ten minutes away from us. It means we have two meals taken care of a week. That is a tremendous help to me; sometimes I don't even cook all week as there will be left overs that my nanay will pack, and I also do take away from time to time.
The kids have to eat what's in front of them, I don't subscribe to different meals for kids. They eat what we eat.
The children also have their set chores. They put breakfast things away in the sink, make their beds, get dressed and ready for school. I don't want them to be spoilt. My parents didn't make me help until I was in high school, and I want my kids to participate from early on!
Tina:What's your go-to stress food?
Marikit: Oh, I have a real sweet tooth. I love biscuits! And if I'm given free reign, I can eat a whole pack of Tim Tams! I just love biscuits in general. (Laughs)
The kids like to make vanilla biscuits with sprinkles and I'll find some excuse to to make a double batch! (laughs).
Tina: What's a go-to no fail meal you can fix easily for the family?
Marikit: Pasta! I don't have time to make things where the kids will say: What's that? So it has to be something like bolognese or a lasagne. My routine is if I have to cook, I'll drop off the kids in the morning, and then I'll cook so that all the household stuff is done so when I head into the studio, I can work straight through to school pick up time. I give myself an hour to cook.
Tina: Are you good about taking care of yourself?
Marikit: Yes, I always stop for lunch and I have to exercise, but it takes time out of my day!
I go down to the local park when Shawn is working from home and I do the 20 meter shuttle run test, or the beep test. Its exhausting! Others days I run in the park near here.
Tina: Will you share a recipe with us and tell us a little about it?
Marikit: Sinigang is a favourite filo comfort food. If it's a rainy day or if I have a cold, my nanay will cook this and it is delicious. It is a slow cooked soup usually with pork and soured with tamarind. It is an absolute favourite. Nanay cooks it, and the kids eat it in silence.
1/2 kg pork scotch fillet (neck) cut into cubes
1 kg pork bones
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tomatoes quartered
1 chilli whole, but slit at the tip
2-3 litres water
1 large onion, sliced
1 taro, peeled and cut into pieces
1 pack sinigang mix water OR
1 tablespoon tamarind paste dissolved in half cup hot water
2 cups green veggies of your choice, like Chinese greens or snake beans cut into short lengths
salt and pepper
Bring the pork bones and pieces to boil together in a saucepan with 2 litres of tap water.
Reduce the heat, skim any scum from the top.
After 50 minutes, add the taro, onion, tomato quarters, fish sauce and chilli.
Stir from time to time.
Cook for another 30 minutes on a low bubble and then remove the pork bones, leaving only the scotch fillet cubes in the soup.
Add half a packet of sinigang mix to the soup, stir and taste to adjust.
Add the rest of the sinigang powder if a more sour taste is desired. Now season with salt and pepper.
When the meat is very tender, add the green veggies to the soup.
Cook an additional five minutes until veggies are tender, and serve hot.
Six Ain't Seven Cafe
91 Grose Street
86 George Street
Ph: 02 80408838