To the Man Who Taught Me to Love Food, Happy Father’s Day.
It should come as no surprise that food played a huge role in my family life and continues to this day. My mom was the primary cook when I was a kid, catering to a family with diverse preferences (my dad always wanted some kind of seafood, my mom doesn’t really like fish, my brother only wanted to eat “American food” or pizza, and I ate everything). True to the restaurant business that runs in her blood (she grew up in her parents’ Chinese restaurant in the Philippines and several siblings are in the biz too), she ran a one-woman show in our kitchen for many years.
My mom may have taught me how to cook, but my dad - he taught me how to eat. The surest way I knew how to make my dad proud was to eat all the crazy Filipino food that he offered to me. Stinky, fermented rice and fish. Bile soup with intestines. Blood soup. Every kind of fish and seafood he could get his hands on (especially eel, my dad is obsessed with eel). Thanks to my dad, I fear eating absolutely nothing, and I love to eat almost everything.
It would be disingenuous for me not to acknowledge that my dad and I have had a complicated relationship throughout the years. But when it comes down to it, I love him dearly, and I know that he loves me even though he hasn’t always shown it in ways that were apparent to me. In recent years, he has taken much more to cooking and, now, finally he has a way to show his love in a way that I understand. Despite all our disagreements, the complicated history - when my dad and I come together around food, we are on common ground. And we both know that the meal is about more than just the food, but the unspoken love that it represents.
When you go on a macaron-making binge, you’re inevitably left with a lot of egg yolks. You could make a bunch of things: pudding, mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, bearnaise sauce, caesar salad dressing, pastry cream, carbonara pasta, some kind of cream pie, or any variety of custards, just to name a few. My mind immediately goes to leche flan because it’s my mom’s go-to dessert for every family event (actually, it’s a Filipino party staple). My mom doesn’t really use a written recipe, but it always seems to come together nicely (well, except when she takes an Ambien and then forgets about it in the oven). Here’s a sample of her work:
For a potluck recently, I attempted my own version of this national dessert with some non-Filipino flavors.
Allow me a moment to share something that I’ve been grappling with lately. The thoughts aren’t well organized, but I have to do this or I’m going to go crazy… I can’t bring myself to post anything else until I get this out of my system. Warning: <ramble>
Recently, I have been trying to wrap my head around issues of race/class, food culture, and food politics. Namely, I have become keenly aware of the fact that I write this blog from a place of privilege.