I spent the month of March cooking and eating Filipino food.
Here’s what I learned, what I liked, and what I’ll do differently next month (technically this month).
By the time you read this, Filipino month will be long gone and April will be near its end. I’m falling further and further behind. I’m at least three weeks behind at this point and not sure how to catch up (trying not to think about it too much).
Practically every day, I say to myself I’ll bunker down and be back on track, but it’s just not realistic. One post takes at least a day or two to write a draft, proofread it, rewrite it, edit it, select the photos, edit the photos, proofread it again, write the metadata, check the SEO, proofread it again, and finally maybe post it. Yikes.
Of all the art mediums I’ve ventured into, writing is one of the hardest for me. I’ve always been more visual, so when it comes to constructing sentences that convey what I mean, I feel like I could write the same sentence over and over again and it still might not be clear. I was a copywriter in an advertising agency for two years and could never quite tell when I was finished with a project. How many ways could I say the same thing? And when I did say it in every way possible, would the reader understand what I really meant? I realize, this could be said for any medium, but I’ve never had this much trouble with any other. Maybe that’s a good thing?
Do what makes you uncomfortable
The point is, for me taking photos is the easy part, cooking is the easy part, writing is difficult. I could look at the same post on different days and feel different about it. I’ve never felt that words were my forte. Here’s to doing it anyway.
Beyond that my biggest problem last month was in my process. Everyone says that when you make your to-do lists, you need to break each item down into specific, measurable, achievable tasks, but when breaking down one task, say a blog post, turns into writing a draft, proofreading it, rewriting it, editing it, selecting the photos, editing the photos, proofreading it again, writing the metadata, checking the SEO, proofreading it again, and finally maybe posting it, it can quickly get overwhelming. With a list like that, it’s easier for me to procrastinate and avoid it.
And so, the struggle continues…now for my wins.
- Mother-daughter bonding time. *squee*
I strategically planned last month to coincide with a visit home to my mom’s. Before I arrived, I told her we were only allowed to cook Filipino food at home (this didn’t include eating out). We ended up making lumpia (fried spring rolls), chicken tinola (chicken soup), pork menudo (a pork tomato-based stew), and tortang talong (eggplant omelettes). She taught me so much; I couldn’t have done this month without her.
2. Trying new foods
* = Favorite
New Foods I Tried Last Month (In No Particular Order)
3. Learning stuff
At first I thought going from Chinese food to Filipino food might be too similar, but it was actually a good choice. There are similarities: They both use woks, though different kinds of woks, they both use soy sauce, again, different kinds, and they both base their meals around rice. (This worked out perfectly since I bought a twenty-five pound bag of jasmine rice last month.)
So, yeah, it was nice to learn more about asian cuisine and how to make some of the dishes my mom made for me growing up. I especially enjoyed asking my mom about her life in the Philippines, what she ate, what her grandmother cooked, and how coming from China influenced my family’s food as well.
Filipino Restaurants I ate at
65-40 Woodside Ave Woodside, NY 11377
Papa’s Kitchen is a real ‘hole in the wall.’ If you’ve never heard the term, it means a place that is small, nowhere near fancy, and has great food. I’m pretty sure Papa’s Kitchen is actually Papa’s kitchen, it feels like you’ve been invited to dinner at someone’s home, and whatever’s on the menu is what they cooked that day. With only four tables in the whole place, plastic forks and spoons, and paper plates sat underneath banana leaves, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The lechon kawali (deep-fried pork belly) was excellent, crispy and tender, and so fatty, but so good.
I also tried the lumpia (fried spring rolls), which were crispy and tasty (You can’t really go wrong with freshly fried things), but I did miss my mom’s sweet and sour sauce. The sauce they served it with reminded me of the duck sauce you get with American-Chinese egg rolls.
The pancit palabok was disappointing, it had a good flavor with little bits of fried pork skin throughout, but was mostly just vermicelli noodles topped with half a hard-boiled egg and not much else.
Overall, Papa’s Kitchen felt really authentic. It’s a little bit out of the way, so it seems like a secret place the local Filipinos go to get a taste of home. Definitely worth a try.
CK’s Hot Shoppe
1433 Baronne St New Orleans, LA 70113
Another hole in the wall, what are the chances? Now that I think about it, most Filipino restaurants I’ve been to are hole in the walls, unless you’re in a bigger city or somewhere with a larger Filipino population. Why is that? Is it a culture thing?
Walking into CK’s, it feels very Filipino, you’re greeted by a store front, selling various convenience items, cigarettes, liquor. There’s clutter everywhere, but the hosts are friendly and the food has rave reviews (anybody who knows this place, heard about it from someone else).
We were the only people in the restaurant, and were greeted by the chef and the lone server who didn’t hand us a menu, but asked what we would like. There was a chalkboard menu by the entrance, but he also listed off what was good that day.
We ordered the lumpia, crispy pata, sisig, laing, and the kare kare. All were really good. The chef even invited me to the kitchen to watch him in action. Look at this crispy pata AKA deep-fried pork knuckle (it’s my mom’s fav):
I will say I was pretty sick of pork fat, pork belly, chicharron, crispy pata, you name it. I’m a bacon fan, but all these deep-fried pork fatty bits don’t really appeal to me. Salty and fatty is alright at times, but I may have overdone it last month.
On to the next thing!