Friday, December 23, 2011

My Favorite Philippine Dishes

Some of the Filipino Dishes served in Boac, Marinduque during a Family Reunion

My wife and I have resided here in the US since 1960. We have adapted to hamburgers, hot dogs, salad, cottage cheese, yogurt and other typical American fast foods. Once in a while we have cravings for Filipino dishes.

Cooking Filipino food here in Northern California is no longer a problem, since we can purchase the ingredients in a Filipino-American store or an Oriental store (Chinese, Korean or Japanese) within 10 to 20 miles driving distance from our residence.

In the 1960s there was only one Filipino store near our residence in Chicago, Illinois. We oftentimes have to shop in China Town downtown. Today, there are Filipino grocery stores in almost all the medium-sized and big cities in the US to cater to the expanding population of Filipino Americans who immigrated to the US in the 1980s.

We have resided in several cities here in US (Sacramento, Pinole, Modesto (California), Chicago, Illinois, Kansas City, Missouri and Colesville, Maryland). Every time we moved, my first job was to look at the telephone directory for the nearest oriental or Filipino store to our house.

The Philippines have a lot of dishes that I love. But my favorite dishes are fresh lumpia (eggrolls), pancit (rice noodles), lechon (roasted pig), shrimps in mixed vegetables in coconut milk, chicken and/or pork afritada (cooked in tomato sauce with potatoes and green peppers), dinuguan (blood pudding) and de-boned and stuffed chicken called relleno. The above dishes are also the favorites of our four children who grew up here in US and do not really know the cuisine of the Philippines.

Our children are brown-skinned and looked very Filipino, but they are as American as apple pie, since they all grew up here in the US. During their college years, some of their friends called them "coconuts". Their friends would comment, "You guys are brown outside but very white inside". That indeed is the truth! Sometimes my children think this is a racial slur. I told them to accept the comment and not worry about it.

My wife is an excellent cook. The saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" applies to our life! When we were students at the University of the Philippines in the early 1950s, our courtship was on and off. I was not really ready to get married at that time, since I was still planning to do graduate studies in the US.

One day before my 21st birthday (we had not talked or seen each other for almost a year), I was surprised to receive a birthday gift from her. Her gift was a chiffon orange cake that she baked from scratch. It was the most delicious cake I have ever eaten. It reignited our romance and we started dating again. The next year we got married. I was only 23 years old at that time. The next year, we had our oldest son and I was already in US doing graduate work at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

Do you have a favorite dish, perhaps a native dish of your country of origin? I will appreciate if you share it on ViewsHound, including the recipe if possible.

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