Hashtag when you write all your blog posts for the month in one week.
As I mentioned last month, I spent the first sixteen years of my life thinking I was Filipino. The majority of my mom’s side of the family resides in the Philippines, my mom was born and raised there, and she speaks fluent Tagalog (Filipino). I remember she always used to rave about the Filipino foods she missed and couldn’t find in the US. Finding a Filipino restaurant in Louisiana was like finally finding that sock you lost in the laundry four years later. If we did find one, we were lucky if they got enough business to stay open.
I’ve been to the Philippines twice. Once when I was a toddler and a second time just last year. I’ve kept in touch with my family there a little through Facebook (ah, the wonders of the internet), but otherwise I don’t see them much.
I have very few memories of my first visit to the Philippines.
I’m not even sure if my memories are real memories or dreams. I remember the night we arrived it was pouring rain, and we had to rush into my aunt’s house. The ground floor was a small shop where they sold various things. I only paid attention to the candy in a glass case, specifically a pack of Juicy Fruit gum.
I also remember a lot of mosquitos. I had bites all over my legs that itched. My great-grandmother (Atai) didn’t speak any english, but she understood and scratched them for me with a smile.
Beyond that, I remember bathing on the roof, or in an open air space with my mom and looking over at some garbage bins across from us. Right on top of them sat an enormous rat the size of a cat.
At that age, you don’t really think anything of the change in scenery. As long as you’re fed and you have a warm bed to sleep in, you don’t realize how privileged your life is.
That’s one thing I really appreciate from my parents growing up. I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled a lot, to have developed a love of traveling, and a love of exotic foods. Even if I didn’t speak the local language, I could always bond over food and communicate with smiles.
So, back to the food
I grew up eating a fair bit of Filipino food. We did have an asian market, but it was pretty far from our house, so we rarely went. When we did go, my mom would stock up on ingredients for lumpia (fried spring rolls) and pancit (Filipino noodles). One of my favorite Filipino dishes growing up was pork adobo (marinated pork cooked in its marinade).
My mom definitely made more dishes that appealed to the American palette. My dad wasn’t keen on anything too exotic, or anything where he had to get his hands dirty. I remember for potlucks or parties my mom would make big batches of pancit or lumpia. Even today, lumpia is the dish all her friends beg her to bring.
So the good news is I’ve had more help this month! My mom wasn’t much help last month since her food is a mix of Chinese and Filipino, but she’s already sent me a ton of Filipino recipes to test out. I’m feeling more confident this go around.
Recipes coming in the next few days! Time is running out. Remind me not to freak out.