All that I am, and hope to be, I owe to my angel mother – Abraham Lincoln
My earliest memory of my mom dates back to my childhood days when I was around 5 years old. I remember my mom hugging me so tightly at the airport minutes before she and my dad left for the US where he was going to study at Harvard Business School on a scholarship to earn his Master’s degree. My next memory of my mom happened 2 years after when she returned home ahead of my father to give birth and she again hugged me so tightly at the airport.
The third one happened just a month after she returned. My mom was due to give birth anytime. One afternoon, we were in her room chatting by the bed and suddenly a strong earthquake jolted us. We both jumped and panicked. For some strange reason, she ended up carrying me despite my weight and her pregnancy. We always have a good laugh whenever we remember that incident. It is true that unusual situations make people physically strong and bring out their survival instincts.
What I will always remember about my mom are two things: her colorful stories and her inspired cooking. When we were growing up, we always had good food on the table. Mom was always cooking our favorite dishes like pork adobo (the national dish of the Philippines), bistek Tagalog (beef steak) and mechado (braised beef) with that yummy fat in the middle. She was also into baking chocolate cake and apple pie using Graham crackers for her crust. There was even a time when she made pandesal (bread roll) and ensaimada (pastry). She also made delicious Chinese ham with glazed sugar on top which was great for sandwiches.
Nowadays, my mom doesn’t cook as much compared to before. She gets tired easily and finds it more convenient to order fast food. Cooking has become more of a rarity. This is why anything she cooks for me now is highly appreciated. Over the past years, when she is in the mood, she tries to cook something simple for me. Since I am a soup person, she cooks hearty chicken soup and sinigang na bangus belly when i am sick or when there is an opportunity. Her soup served piping hot is perfect on a rainy night after arriving from a stressful day at work.
I also love the crunchy pickled onion and garlic which mom makes for me. She learned the art of pickling when she was taking Home Economics at UP where she topped her class. The pickled onion and garlic are perfect as a side dish to our favorite food aside from the nutritional value. Mom also makes the best bagoong alamang (fermented shrimp paste) and the best taba ng talangka (crab roe) which we usually buy at Farmer’s Market. She said 200 female talangkas can only fill one Gerber bottle. One time, she was in the mood and gifted her friends with one bottle of bagoong each for Christmas.
Finally, this year, as her Christmas gift to me, I requested mom to cook (her “labor of love” as she said) two of her best dishes and my all-time favorites- pork adobo and bistek Tagalog (beef steak). Two days before Christmas, she was in the kitchen and started to cook the pork adobo first and then the bistek Tagalog (beef steak). Mom prepared the ingredients all by herself which made the dishes even more special. As moral support, I was at the dining room to engage her in animated conversation while the dishes were simmering in the kitchen – both prepared and cooked with love.