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How to Make Chicken Sopas

An Ed Sheeran song was stuck in my head. It was playing on the radio while Dennis drove me to the airport. The midnight flight from San Francisco to Taipei was on time. In Taipei, I would have to wait nearly three hours for my connection to Manila. I hardly had enough rest because of…

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How to Make Pork Ribs Nilaga

A montage of old, black and white photographs of immigrant families arriving on Ellis Island is playing on the screen. I’m sitting in the Paramount Theater in downtown Oakland on a Wednesday morning in September. The theater is packed. I’m one of the nine hundred fifty one immigrants from ninety one countries taking the Oath…

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How to Make Chicken Pastel

The dirt underneath my feet was damp. The roof of the hen house was damp. The table where I left the trowel was damp. It was the first time after a long time the garden had a good soak, a much needed soak. It started to rain the night before while we were asleep. It…

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How to Make Puto (Steamed Rice Cake)

Am I the only one who thinks merienda [mehr-yen-dah] is terribly underappreciated? It is a meal often missed like almusal, or breakfast on rushed mornings. Merienda is often overlooked. We obsessively prepare for and plan around tanghalian, [tang-ha-lee-ahn] or lunch, and hapunan, [ha-poo-nahn] or supper but more often than not we forget about the meal…

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Happiest Day

The light in our garden was beautiful. The sun peered through the limbs of our old oak tree casting a mosaic-like shadow on the ground. Dennis stood under it in his pressed navy blue suit and green tie I picked out for him. Tears welled up in my eyes as I walked along the carved path strewn with purple petals. My mother walked beside me, our arms twisted together. The violin, the viola, and the cello played a love song about kaleidoscopes, about wanderers and voyagers. An old friend sang our song then a new one told our story. I couldn’t believe it was happening. I was worried I would…

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Five Years

I found a letter in my inbox the other day from someone in Melbourne, Australia who had just discovered my blog. “I love your blog,” Maria wrote. “It’s homey, practical, intelligent and still very Filipino. It’s writing like this that can take Filipino cuisine into the mainstream, which sadly it isn’t yet in Australia.” Those are big shoes to fill, I thought. She apologized for sounding too patronizing, which, of course, I didn’t mind. Hers is the kind of letter I am always thrilled to receive. I always get so excited to hear from people who get it, who get what the blog is about. She told me she made…

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Barquillos

When I was little, the old Magnolia Ice Cream House along Aurora Boulevard was, without a doubt, the happiest place on earth. No other place to my mind came close. The ice cream shop, which sat on a sprawling, green lawn next door to a concrete building that housed the plant where the ice cream…

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The Scent of Garlic

I could smell garlic in my breath, which I didn’t mind. When you’re ten years old you don’t obsess about such things. Besides, I felt like I was on top of the world, on the front seat of a jeepney flying at full speed with the cold wind against my face and the taste of…

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How to Make Skillet Calamansi Bars

I could hear nothing but the clinking of the spoon against the glass. The sound filled the kitchen as much as the heat of the afternoon did. A strength-sapping kind of heat. I stirred in a spoonful of sugar then added cubes of ice. The clinking continued. Spoon against the ice. Ice against the glass.…

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