One early morning in July, I was eating "suman" for breakfast. My mom used to buy it for me when she went to the market every Sunday. I realized that I never even knew how much I loved it until I had to pay more than $1 a piece. It is true. You never really know what you got 'til it's gone. This got me thinking about the things that I took for granted when I was back home that I miss so much that I would gladly pay an exorbitant shipping fee just to be able to have them.
At the top of my list is - please don't judge me - Jollibee Chickenjoy and Burger Steak! I miss them so much. I know they're junk food but I don't care. I miss the crispy chicken goodness that, try as I might, I could never manage to replicate. It's so good that even Anthony Bourdain himself tried and actually liked it even though he loathes fast food. Filipinos in the US are lucky. They have Jollibee in a lot of major cities there like LA and New York. Here in Calgary, it is still just a dream.
I also miss mangoes, both green and yellow. I know there are mangoes here but the ones they sell here are usually from Mexico. I'm not dissing Mexican produce because I love their avocados, but you have never really had mangoes until you have tried the golden deliciousness that is the Philippine mango.
Third on my list is seafood, seafood, seafood. I miss fresh seafood. My mom's hometown is by the sea so I used be able to get fish, crab, shrimp, clams, prawns and mussles on the day they were caught. They were also so cheap that I would swear off meat for the duration of my vacations and would only eat seafood. Calgary, being landlocked, usually gets frozen seafood and because they are imported from elsewhere, the varieties are not that many and the price could be exorbitant.
I also miss going to our neighborhood Mom-and-Pop bakery just at the end of our street where I could choose from a smorgasbord of baked goodies for our breakfast or afternoon snack. Yes, Filipinos love bread as well as rice. We're obviously not scared of carbs. Now where can I find a Filipino bakeshop here? I remember watching a show on the Food Network where Adam Sandler said he loves the Filipino bread that he gets from a Filipino bakeshop in LA. I miss ensaymada, pan de coco, monggo bread, Spanish bread and mamon so much.
Another thing that I miss if the street food. The neighborhood Barbecue-han, is one of my favorite places to go after school. When I was still in U.P, I would never have survived university if not for the street food. For 5 pesos a meal, I could eat isaw, fishballs, kwek-kwek and all other types of grilled or fried street food.
Bulalo is a very rich beef soup that is slow-cooked with the bone marrow. I tried making it here but it didn't taste as good because the meat here usually has trimmed fat. I could barely find any fat in the beef that I buy from the supermarkets. In the Philippines though, the beef is cooked in all its fatty glory and the result is a creamy soup that is a little bit too rich to eat every day, but a little indulgence once in a while wouldn't kill us, right?
Finally, the food that I miss the most is Pork Sisig! A list of food that most Filipinos abroad would miss would not be complete without it. I think the picture speaks for itself. Yum!
These are just a few of the food I miss from home. This list could go on and on. I miss them so much, I have an actual list is a tiny notebook so I'd remember to eat all of them when I go back home. I can't wait to take a vacation.