Posts Tagged Filipino

On the 4th of July don’t be a picky eater!

There’s this great New Yorker cartoon of two women sitting at a meal.  One woman says to the other:

“I started my vegeterianism for health reasons, then it became a moral choice, and now it’s just to annoy people.”

The fondest memories I have growing up weren’t of going to Disney Land or road tripping up the California Coast in the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser (see the car from That 70’s Show).  It was of hanging out with my family at a park in Long Beach on July 4th, 1976 — and every 4th of July after that.  For the bicentennial, I wore some crazy red-white-and-blue plaid Garinamals outfit that looked like a wardrobe in a blender. My cousins were in the Navy and lived with us and it was so cool to hang out with them and tell other kids “they’re in the Navy!”  In my head, that won me some social cred points.

What I remember most was the food.

It didn’t matter what the holiday was, what the state of the economy was, whether my parents had money or not — the spread was always big, always Filipino and anyone was welcome to it. My food is your food.

Straight out-of-the-ocean crabs, pancit, fried fish, rice, lumpia, dinuguan and desserts that challenge my Tagalog to remember. And if we were ‘lucky’ one of my aunts would bust out the much fabled-Filipino style spaghetti — yes, it has cut up hot dogs in it. I remember kids from other picnics at the park coming over and trying our food — some of them liked it, some ran back to their picnics thinking WTF was that?

My parents went through a lot to get to the the US and become citizens — and left a lot of family behind. But the food comes with us.

As my California-Northeast-Filipino palate woofed down some Southern inspired cooking today and sipped on sweat tea, I remembered those meals and this New Yorker cartoon and realize just how much picky eaters annoy the living crap out of me.

Picky eating is a first world problem. People in the developing world aren’t turning down hamburgers because there is a tomato on it and it annoys me when people do that. And no one ever died saying “golly gee, I sure am glad I never tried that plate of . . . that nice man offered me.”

The Fourth of July is the celebration of this country’s birthday — a birthday of immigrants and their food.  So when you’re at that park BBQ or picnic reach over and grab a piece of something new or something you might even call foreign on any other day of the year.  Remember, your exotic is someone else’s normal.  Grab a little exotic even if you are a picky eater. It’s the American thing to do.

You can go back to annoying me tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, America.

And thanks mom and dad. I’m grateful to be here, but now I’m hungry.

– Jose Mallabo



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