Have you ever met a Filipino here at home who doesn’t have a relative abroad? I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t have a sibling, a tita or a high school classmate living in the U.S., Europe or somewhere in an Asian country. During the months of December to January, we find ourselves busy hosting relatives and friends who have come back to the Philippines for a taste of a traditional Filipino Christmas complete with parols, simbang gabi, Noche Buena and the noisiest New Year celebration, ever.
And what do we do to entertain them? We feed them, of course! My sister Mariles always requests some chicken inasal as her first meal upon arrival, while my other sister Stella finds her way to Max’s for fried chicken smothered with banana catsup. A cousin who lives in London passes by Jollibee for the Pinoy flavors of birthday spaghetti straight from the airport.
Our taste buds will never forget those home-cooked flavors that somehow can’t ever be replicated in foreign lands. Is it the brand of vinegar and soy sauce that makes adobo at home more special? Is it the kind of chicken? Could it be the seasoned kawali in lola’s kitchen?
It is only when we live abroad that we get to see how much we truly love Filipino food because we tend to take everyday pang-bahay food for granted. When we see how much the food is missed by our balikbayan relatives, we can’t help but be proud that we have all of these goodies anytime we want them–from taba ng talangka and manggang hilaw with bagoong to halo-halo, sapin sapin and pastillas de leche. Even simple snacks like cornicks and butong-pakwan are much coveted by overseas Filipinos.
This issue features familiar Pinoy food favorites we all love and cherish. It’s all about ulam that you mix with rice to your heart’s (and tummy’s) content–conveniently forgetting what it’s going to do to your “love handles”. Bring out all the sawsawans and eat according to how salty, sour, sweet or spicy you like your food.
Let Appetite be your resource in cooking for your parties over the holidays and choose from any of the recipes shared by our columnists in Herbivore, Market Momma, Cuisinera, Green Gourmet, Homecook Online and Dorothy Bites. Do also check out our website at Appetite.ph for our archive of recipes and the latest updates on restaurant dining. Wishing you all a hearty appetite this Christmas season, and more confidence in your cooking this coming 2012. Thank you for inviting me into your kitchen!