When I first expressed interest in writing for Taste of the Place, Julie and I corresponded about my “region of expertise.” I (half) joked that I didn’t really have a region on which I focused. My recipes range the globe and run the gamut from sweets to savories. Julie agreed that I could present recipes from different regions as long as I provided a context for my choices.
I’ll start with this: both of my parents immigrated to the United States from the Philippines when they were children. But both families embraced becoming Americans and, as a result, a lot of their Filipino identity was pushed aside. For instance, neither of my parents speak Ilocano (their dialect) much less Tagalog (the national language). So, when people have asked, “What are you?” I am specific in my answer – my parents are from the Philippines. Or I push to clarify if they are wondering about my ethnic background or my nationality. Those are different, I remind them.
To add to this, my husband is Caucasian and our kids are, obviously, a mix. Interestingly enough, both of our boys will readily identify themselves as Filipino if asked. Maybe it’s all the time they spend with my parents. My little one often says, “You’re a bad Filipino, Mom.” I am. I admit it.
So, this year, when that same child was assigned the Philippines as his country for the entire year in AP Human Geography, I agreed to be a better Filipino and help him explore the cuisine of the country – beyond pancit and lumpia. So, our first step was to take a field trip to the local Filipino grocery store. We wandered around the produce area, picking up various ingredients and decided to make a pork stew with mixed veggies.