As I have mentioned oftentimes in the past, my family loves food. We love to cook. In fact, my first childhood memories include inhaling my auntie’s cabbage rolls, waking up early to make budbud or suman with my grandma, and watching my mother grind rice for putong pinalutaw.
There were also those times when the smell of my lola’s torta would permeate the air, making my mouth drool even before I could even see the scrumptious snack come out of the bakery oven. These are probably among the reasons I love food as much as I do.
Lately though, I haven’t had as much time making memories involving food or cooking. I have been too caught up with work and my illnesses that I have forgotten what it is like to eat a really good home-cooked meal for lunch. I haven’t eaten native delicacies made by the hands of my mama, much less my grandmother, who passed away more than 20 years ago.
This all changed about two weeks ago though. My aunt, who used to make mean cabbage rolls when I was still a child, decided to bring over some boxed lunches to my office.
The idea started when I told her that I hate going out for lunch. As protective as she is over me, she then said she could easily whip up something for me and my workmates, so we wouldn’t have to brave the heat of the sun or the possible onslaught of rains during our lunch break. And, that she did.
First, there was her chili rice with lumpia shanghai. With its right mixture of veggies, spices, chorizo, and bagoong, the chili rice was perfect with the pork rolls drizzled with sweet chili sauce. It was what you could call a cacophony of flavors bursting in my taste buds.
Then, of course, there was her cabbage roll. It has been quite some time since I have eaten this recipe of my aunt. And, I was so overjoyed when I learned that she was planning to make us some.
It was a delight, not just to my mouth, but also to my heart. It brought back wonderful memories of my childhood when we’d sit around the table during meal times, laughing and talking, with my lolo and lola presiding over the conversations. I miss those days, And, my aunt’s cabbage roll brought a glimpse of that part of my past for me.
Of course, these are not all that my aunt have prepared for us. Her burger steak with egg and her special gravy is a best seller and her chicken fillet (marinated in her special marinade with mustard) with beans on the side was definitely drool worthy.
Pretty soon, my auntie said she’d cook up something using her baking equipment and put it into our lunch boxes. She said it might be spare ribs or some roast pork with potatoes. Who knows what she’ll think of dishing out next for us? All I know is I feel her loving through her packed lunch boxes.
My aunt’s love for cooking flows into the food that she cooks for us. It’s almost the same as her care that I usually feel when I wake up at dawn and notice her putting a blanket over me, during those times when I’d sleep over at their house. It’s similar to when she’d run her hands over the back of my shirt to see if it’s wet from all the dancing my cousins and I do Saturday mornings at their home.
I hope you can get to eat my aunt’s packed lunches as well. You can really feel the love. For those who’ve already eaten them, I’m sure you know what I mean.