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Honoring my Mother: Food pics of the past

Any food fest these days, from ordinary everyday meals to fiesta fare, and anything in between, cannot be complete without “proper documentation.” This is in the form of what is now popular in social media, as food pics. Many may frown on this modern-day practice (or rather oddity), but who will argue that because of them, we, at the very least, learn something new every day.

For example, in my family, we occasionally share pics and recipes of our Saturday food “experiments,” as we call them, with friends and other family members. Oftentimes, these results in the lively exchanges of tips on how to be creative with other cuisines tabled for future so-called experiments. While it is true that alternating some of the original ingredients of a certain dish with local varieties or counterparts isn’t really a new thing, it almost always brings about exciting new treats for us willing guinea pigs.

While trying to recall the many Saturday dishes that my mate had come up with in the past, I could not help but wonder, what if this psychiatric puzzle of foto pics had existed during the early days? For sure, I would’ve loved arranging all the shoots that would have featured both our families’ favorite foodies.

My mate’s fam in Gensan for example, prides itself with a very traditional Valenciana that is as Español as it can get. The delicate mixture of shrimp, chicken white meat, and peas, among others, make up for a much-awaited treat for everyone in attendance. Incidentally, I have never attended a family gathering without it on the menu.

Then there is my mother’s specialty Menudo, the rich taste of which is so hard not to miss. The aroma of her meticulous preparations and slow cooking of pork and liver, with potatoes, bell pepper and what-not had lingered through the whole house back then but I can still smell it in my mind till this day.

Another favorite dish that would have made my list would be the Dinuguan of our late employ, Manang Linda, which still remains as the whole clan’s benchmark for other Dinuguans. At least, before she died, her secret recipe had been passed on to her son, although his is still a wee bit different, if not inferior.

Moving further down in time, I surely would have loved to take pictures of the foods of my childhood, with special mention to those prepared by my distant relatives in Alitagtag, Batangas. There had been one time long ago in the late 60s when we attended a town fiesta, where my brother and I had to go from house-to-house, through a whole streetblock of relatives who served guests with the best Tagalog dishes ever.

I could still recall our Lolo Ute reminding us not to eat too much while in each house, as we had to run through the whole gauntlet of them. Of course that was easier said than done because, each house’ food offering was as varied and as delicious as the previous one. When it came to the final hut on the block, we just had water.
An old Kodak ad had once said that the best moments are the ones never taken. Darnation, while I may no longer recall the foods on that particular Batangas day, I will never forget the bloated feeling, as though it happened only yesterday. Now, whenever our conversation drifts towards pigging out, I am always reminded of that fateful day and wish I had pics to show for it, either for posterity or future experiments.

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