“An angel is someone who manifests himself in the most trying and happiest of times, guiding you through every twining path and every obstacle.”
Whenever i go to the kitchen to formulate our meals, i will always feel the loving presence of our Tatay Uncle who left and indelible mark on our lives. He was the one who made us realize the importance of fresh ingredients in every dish. HE thought me how to cook at a very young age and to scrutinize the flavors brought by various herbs and spices to enhance the over all impact of each dish. He was a pasta lover and a cheese fan. I got those qualities from him. I will always remember how he would give his thumbs up every time he was satisfied with how I cooked his food. I was able to then start cooking for a small group until I slowly cooked for a big batch of guests during birthdays, holidays and other special occasions. I was inspired to complete my spice rack a few years ago so that i wont run out every time I will cook for him. I remember back when he used to arrive from Saudi, he would always ask me where to eat. I will always tell him its up on his appetite. We would always end up eating Lechon Baboy and puso [hanging rice] so that his pork cravings will be satiated. We would always talk about pasta, wines and spices. He thought me the correct pairing of wines for any dish that I will serve and how to properly store ingredients after cooking. He will always inspect the viability of the ingredients before deciding to use or throw it. Whenever we hang out in his house in Fairview, Novaliches, I would always dig into his cookbooks and pantry. 🙂 I will always try something different on his kitchen as an experiment or would always rise early to cook breakfast for every one while i sip my very hot morning coffee. We would always share a cup of coffee every breakfast and will somehow bask into the morning light and soft dew in his garden.
He always loved it to be near mother nature. Seeing the sunrise, having the cool breeze from the mountains, and observing the laid back country life that he had before when he was a kid, and having meaningful conversations with him during the siesta times and during the afternoons made me into full blown outdoor enthusiast now.
About a year ago, on July 26, we never thought tatay will leave us. we are all in denial that someone so kind and generous will depart for his heavenly abode. amid the shock and the confusion around us, we followed his last will to be cremated so that he will be forever remembered. During our last respects to tatay, I had shed my tears for the last time for the man who helped in becoming as to what I am now together with my parents. To the man who had instilled the love for food, nature, wine and the freshest of ingredients.
So yesterday, I as remember his earthly existence, I cooked two of his most favorite dishes. Spaghetti with his choice of ingredients when he was still alive, and of course, the all time favorite, Humba! 🙂 I also cooked Chicken Strips with mixed buttered vegetables on the sides and Hawaiian Menudo. All these cooked by myself! 🙂