Every so often I still miss home, maybe not as much as I did twelve years ago when I first moved to California. But I still do.
I remember my first few months at Stanford very well. I had never been away from home, which made going to school and starting over, all on my own, even more difficult. School wasn’t the hardest part. Doing everything by myself, from cooking to doing my laundry, wasn’t hard either. It was missing friends and family back home and making new ones here that were tougher. A lot tougher. After my first quarter in school, I booked a flight to Manila and the day right after finals I flew back home to spend the holidays with my family. That was probably one of my most memorable Christmases because it made me value and appreciate my family even more.
Twelve years passed by, in the blink of an eye, and I have made San Francisco my new home. But sometimes I still find myself stricken with fits of homesickness. I blame it on my mom’s cooking. Her saucy kaldereta ladled on top of a heap of warm steamed rice. Her salty adobo swimming in delicious pork and chicken fat. Her rich champorado with a swirl of evaporated milk and a side of crunchy fried dilis.
I blame it on Filipino food. Crispy, roasted red pig skin with a thick layer of melt-in-your-mouth salty pig fat. Crunchy, chewy sisig with a spritz of kalamansi and a sprinkle of chilies. Warm, fresh bibingka with a slice of salted duck egg wrapped in banana leaves. Sticky rice cakes topped with sweet fried coconut milk curd.
Since my mom is thousands of miles away, Filipino comfort food here in the Bay Area would have to suffice whenever I feel nostalgic about life in Manila. It’s another reason I love living in San Francisco. A plate of lechón is only a fifteen-minute-drive away at Tastebuds in San Bruno.