Every time I’m crammed with work or almost losing it because I am overwhelmed with my busy schedule, I usually either want: one, to sleep an entire 24 hours, or two, to devour about two plates of Chicken Adobo and rice. When I come home from a long day from school or work, there is nothing I wish for more than to see some cold leftover Beef Steak and white rice sitting on the dining table, or a silver pot full of Sinigang waiting for me on that kitchen stove. There is nothing I want more. I want it more than Moose Tracks ice cream, Chinese food that has a 4.5 star rating on Yelp, Thai food from my all-time favorite restaurant, and more than pizza even.
Now, I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “Filipino food isn’t even that good.” Let me just say: Chances are you probably just ate some shitty Filipino food that wasn’t homemade or from a food truck or from some “Filipino cultural festival event.” But let me also just say: You’re also partially right. Filipino food is not the healthiest of foods (fact) nor the tastiest (objective), but for some reason, it’s something that I’ll always be craving.
When I lived at home (by “home,” I mean with my parents), I didn’t even care for my parents’ cooking. I ate it because I had to. I actually preferred eating anything other than Filipino food because I would get tired of it. But now, I find myself trying to learn all my mom’s recipes (no matter how mediocre it turns out), getting excited whenever I make a trip to the nearest Asian Market that I can’t pronounce, calling my mom to ask what ingredients to buy, and loading on my Dad’s dinner leftovers whenever I visit Sacramento.
My pantry is stuffed with the packaged powders that make Filipino food easy to make “in just a couple steps!” But it just isn’t the same. There’s just something about going back home and eating a nice homemade Filipino dinner made by your Mom or Dad.
Filipino food reminds me of home. It reminds me of how my friends always used to tell me that my parents’ house smelled like rice, and I could never tell. It reminds me of my parents. It reminds me of every single huge family party I’ve ever been to. It reminds me of the Holidays. It reminds me of my childhood. It reminds me of my birthday parties. It reminds me of my little brother and older sister. It reminds me of family.
I texted my Mom last night “I want Sinigang,” and after she basically told me to make it myself (as she always does), she told me she loved me and to take care of myself. There is nothing that can replace a mother’s comfort or her homemade cooking. It’s impossible.
I hope that one day, when I have a hard-headed, angsty teenager who moves away for college, she’ll miss my own homemade food.