|my foodie mom|
Had the opportunity once again to spend Christmas and the New Year with family and was so glad to see my mom in good health. Well, not exactly in the best of health as she is still recuperating from herpes zoster opthalmicus which infected her left eye and required a two week stay at the hospital; but was nonetheless in good spirits and was her usual self at her “office”(the kitchen). She still could create masterpieces and was so inspired seeing her in her best element, cooking that is. Told her to just let me do the cooking or at least help her out but she would just brush me aside with an instant order to go out of her “office” pronto. Yup… it was from my old lady that I learned the ropes of cooking. And being the eldest among 3 boys and an only girl, I was the very first student of my mom. My kitchen education started early where I would accompany her to the market, which I totally despise back then. Carrying her market bag for her, she would painstakingly point out to me the freshest produce that she would use for certain recipes and would point out unique characteristics of every item she would purchase. And mind you, she has different markets on where best to buy stuff. Beef, goat meat and fish for instance would be best at Farmer’s Market in Cubao. For bagoong isda, tapang usa (deer meat), quinta market in quiapo is best, don’t know if they still sell deer meat there; vegetables would be at Munoz Market or at Balintawak Market. The latter being the landing zone of produce from the provinces and is probably the cheapest, vegetable wise that is, from all over the metro. The only relief to me then was the late morning snack she would buy me at every market sortie. The panciteria in Quiapo and the original bakery of Eng Bee Tin (hopia) as my favorites.
In cooking, she doesn’t go for shortcuts and would rather labor the whole day working on something than make us all eat a substandard dish later on. Special occasions would always be a gastronomic treat because of all the delectable and mouth watering dishes she would serve. And as we ilokano’s love to say it, “nagimas unnay” (so delicious) is her cooking. But the years have taken its toll on my mom… Looking at her, I can’t help but notice her frail frame, gone are the springy step in her gait but was nonetheless still sprightly at her age. She slowed down a lot but that is to be expected and who wouldn’t at 76! Am just so thankful that given all these, she could still transform the “ordinary (dish) into something extraordinary”; maybe because for every creation comes with a whole lot of love.
Mama, I am so grateful for all the cooking that you have done for us all (me, rizza, dennis and nino). And now, you’re still doing it to all your grandchildren. Am totally amazed at how your cooking has evolved over the years. You always have something new to offer. My prayers for you are for the good Lord to continue to bless you with good health, so you can still cook for all of us, hahahaha! happiness even if on most days, you are by your lonesome, peace in you heart and in your surroundings, may you always feel in your heart the love and affection of your children and grandchildren, and for the good Lord to bless your gift and passion for cooking… I love you mama…