It runs in the family

Eating good food makes me happy but serving good food makes me even happier.

So where does this love for food come from? You see, I grew up in a family that loves to eat, more so, loves to cook.

My mom is an excellent cook and was oftentimes the cook of the whole clan. During the days when I was still a lanky little kid, she was always tasked to cook for family gatherings. Back then, she also ran a small canteen where she cooked and sold her merienda (afternoon snacks) meals like arroz caldo (rice porridge with chicken), palabok (rice noodles in shrimp bisque and assorted toppings), mami (Filipino style noodle soup—egg noodles in pork broth and topped with shredded chicken, Chinese cabbage, toasted garlic, spring onions, and boiled egg), and many more. Her signature Filipino dishes like caldereta (Filipino beef stew), kare-kare (ox tail stew in peanut sauce), and binagoongan (pork stewed in fermented shrimp paste) are famous in the family. The best, actually, and dare I say, “Wala kayo sa mommy ko.”

My dad is a good cook, too. Being an Ilocano he knows his vegetables well. His pinakbet is the bomb! Huge chunks of pork and assorted vegetables—bitter melon, eggplant, and okra—slowly braised in salty fermented fish paste broth. It doesn’t sound appetizing but Filipinos love this flavor combination. He loves his dinengdeng as well, fried fish cooked in a simple broth with varying vegetables like saluyot (a leaf vegetable that is very slimy when cooked) or malunggay (moringa, the healthiest vegetable there is, or so they say). It’s very healthy but it’s for an acquired taste.

My sister got her cooking skills from mom. But for me, I learned on my own. Yes, my mom taught me to cook the classics but I started experimenting in the kitchen when I was in high school. I failed miserably the first time but knowing how my brain works, this is how I want to learn, to research on my own and cook food on my own. It’s not that I don’t need help, I actually ask for help every time, but I had to know how far I can take my innate cooking capabilities. So, I did, and look at where I am now—a writer who loves to cook on Sundays and during birthday celebrations; starting his own food business with little knowledge of the industry; and a foodie whose desire for food is boundless, thanks to the many restaurants that open and the amazing Filipino food culture.

When you have a family that knows good food, you are destined to peel, chop, fry, and sweat in the kitchen. I know that good taste in food is wired in every strand of my DNA. With hope, this blog will show you that.


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