Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Mom's Cookbook

Have you noticed that people rarely feel neutral about their mom's cooking? Your mom is/was either the best cook ever OR she was sweetly and hilariously awful. I'm sure it comes as little surprise to anyone out there that I place my own mom squarely in the first category; I've written as much before. Her pesky and evil multiple sclerosis prevents her from cooking now, but of course I still go to her for advice and whatnot. PLUS I filched her copy of Recipes of the Philippines, compiled and edited by Enriqueta David-Perez and published in 1970 (the 16th printing).

How groovy is this cover? Take note of the bakelite faux wood handles on the carving set! The creepy twisty candle! Those random dried flowers! And let's not forget the pineapple wedges stuck to the ham via a toothpicked, pimento-stuffed olive. But don't be fooled by the cover, for many jewels are hidden in these pages, including my mom's handwritten notes, yellowed recipes clipped from newspapers, and what I think is a recipe for cucinta written on the back of a page from her 1974 check register (on October 19th of that year, if you must know, she spent $2.00 on books).

The book proper is equally entertaining. There are little charcoal folk drawings—people in traditional dress, a pair of tsinelas, cooking vessels, and of course a rider atop a caribou; color photographs; black and white photographs; and some fun text. In the intro, David-Perez warns that the book is not a complete collection of Philippine dishes, but one with general appeal "that give a good glimpse of the Filipino heart."

Here are a few more quotes that amuse or baffle me:

"After adding vinegar to a cooking dish, do not stir until mixture has boiled." - But what happens if you mix it before it boils? Tell me! Tell me!

"A Filipino thinks nothing of starving himself or getting into debt to be a perfect host." - This gave me pause, but then I realized: she's right.

"Bread and butter has taken the pace of the kakanin in many modern homes. But in many a heart lingers the nostalgia for something at one with the long ago." - Um, I would like to be at one with the long ago. The long ago of my 30th birthday, let's say.

Here's to nostalgia. *raises glass of Crystal Light*


Malbatron said...

What is a Labong? And why do I like saying it?

ver said...

I don't know, but it can be made to rhyme with "bang a gong," so it must be good...

Gura said...

I've heard that instruction before after adding vinegar. something about the flavor changing or it absorbing too much of the vinegar.