In praise of mama’s cooking
MANILA, Philippines – At our home, every meal time is something to look forward to especially after a long day at work.
It’s not because a feast awaits. It’s not even about guests coming over.
It’s simply because my mama will be cooking.
You might say, “but isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do, anyway?” Sure. Cooking is indeed one of the tasks that mothers (and fathers, grandparents, and even siblings and everybody else who are helping take care of the kids) are expected to do.
But for mama, cooking is more of something she actually enjoys doing and less of an obligation. With the amount of care that she puts into making every delicious meal, no matter how simple or fancy it is, I’d say it’s her way of expressing her love for us.
For the love of cooking
Mama’s favorite part of the house is the kitchen. She learned how to cook from her mom, our nanay, at an early age and has fallen in love with it ever since. She has never taken any formal training; instead, she honed her skills with constant practice at home. Many of my childhood memories involve her being in the kitchen.
Even when she started working full time, mama still makes time to prepare and cook proper meals for the two of us.
In the morning I’d find on the dining table my breakfast and lunch that I’ll be bringing to the office as baon. In the evening, she’d get started on preparing dinner as soon as she arrives from work.
Anyone visiting our home is sure to get a taste of her cooking, too. She sometimes even asks them beforehand if there’s anything they’d like her to prepare.
Mama favors Filipino cuisines like kare-kare, adobo, menudo, and ginataang alimasag, to name a few. My personal favorite is her sinigang na sugpo. Even merienda is something to look forward to because she whips up snacks like champorado, banana fritters, ginataang bilo-bilo, and quick pastas prepared the way I like – overloaded with cheese.
And when I’m sick or when the weather’s cold or rainy, she prepares arroz caldo, sopas, or chicken mami.
The only times mama can't cook are when she’d come home really late from a company function, if she’d be away on a well-deserved break, or when we’d head out with our relatives and friends for lunch or dinner.
Of food and affection
I guess I got my appreciation for food and cooking from mama. Like her, I see cooking as a way to show that one cares for another, particularly if they’re not too showy of their feelings (like me).
After all, when you cook, you don’t just throw in ingredients in a pan and stir. You make sure that you get the best ingredients, prepare them properly, and cook the dish in a way that the one who’ll eat it will truly enjoy it.
Cooking is love in action, and the sense of fulfilment from knowing that others appreciate what you do is unlike anything else. – Rappler.com
All illustrations by Nico Villarete