My dad is from Pampanga. From what I have heard, people from that province are great cooks. My dad is an awesome cook, so it must be true.
Growing up, I remember eating adobo, pinakbet, dinuguan (it ain't made from chocolate, people), pancit, arroz caldo, kare kare. You know, the classics. And as I got older, his "experiments" ventured to the more creative, almost "fusion" in concepts: shellfish in coconut milk, fresh corn soup with malungai (sp?) and a bit of pork and bagoong for flavor.
My dad's cooking spoiled me for any other filipino cooks. Don't get me wrong - my mom, when she does cook - is also pretty good. She has quite a few specialties of her own, which I'll no doubt explore as well. But my dad did most of the cooking in the house. Every day. He still does, actually. Growing up, my family and I made it a point to try the newest Filipino dining establishment that would open up (and subsequently close) in our neighborhood. And we were always, inevitably, disappointed, because we'd set such a high standard. Nobody else could measure up. And it's not like we weren't open minded about it.
Several years ago, Dad sustained a ruptured cerebral aneurysm. It was the worst time of our lives. The very fabric of our small, tight-knit family of three was threatening to unravel, and I was faced with a Moment of Reckoning - if Dad took a turn for the worse, who would take care of the family now? Me?
And for one selfish split second, I thought, who would cook dinner for us now? All I could do was throw stuff in the oven and take it out when it was done. My dad has always been a quiet man, but he shows his love for us in the delicious dishes he cooks, day in and day out. How could anything I cook from here on out ever compare to that?
Thankfully, Dad pulled through from this ordeal (almost) as good as new. And the cooking skills? Intact. Sweeeeet. I took this to mean that I was given a second chance; a chance to learn how to make authentic, homemade Filipino dishes; a chance to continue the cooking traditions my dad (the oldest of seven kids) learned from my grandmother back in the Philippines; a chance to reconnect with my Dad by doing something he loves.
I started this blog as a way to document my journey --- my reconnection with both my father and with my culture through learning, exploration, and recreating the food of my people.