What I love about cooking, is how the process of preparing food activates my sense of smell and brings me back to my childhood memories. A reminiscence on how my siblings and I learned how to plant, grow, and harvest our rice and vegetables and how we cooked our food in a very simple way when we were young. Our parents also introduced us to edible wild plants which we never thought of as “herbal plants”. We just ate them believing in what our parents kept telling us, “that’s what makes you grow strong and tall”. Some tasted bitter, sour, delicate, sweet and some have a mineral taste in it. I remember the first time I ate a “broadleaf plantain”, a weed that grows anywhere that if you picked the leaves at the wrong time and cook it the wrong way, the taste will be soo bitter that you will love to hate.
Our best source of probiotic was fermented food. (I wish I knew what a probiotic is all about at that time, I could have had more). During the corn season, my father will make his famous stinkiest fermented corn, “Baklay”, that gives a delicious tang to any food. It smells like a dirty old sack on the first sniff but that’s where the fun begins, we joke, we laugh so hard until we don’t have any tears to squeeze out without realizing that we emptied our plates… During Festive holidays, we’re always looking forward to the fermented rice wine, it is soo sweet that we enjoy all of it until we’re tipsy and giggly. Any leftover rice wine gets better as it ages, a perfect ingredient to cook with fish.
When we were not well, my father will just muddle cloves of garlic and add it to our food, or use it as a dipping sauce. Our mother prepares us hot and spicy ginger or oregano tea and she made us drink it. We did not like any of it but they have their magic words, “that’s what makes you grow taller and stronger” see how easily we got bribed? we will grow “taller”. Today, no matter how the food looks so good on the plate that makes you drool by just looking at it, I never forget all those weird and delicious scents and tastes that is so powerful that it became a part of me, that’s why I’m here cooking and always inspired to try and add new things.
When I went home to visit my family after being away for so many years, I was so happy to go back to the farm. My excitement went quadrupled when I saw those clusters of ginger and turmeric as I kept digging the earth. There were also bushes of sugarcane, which we used to chew and suck up all the sweet juices from its flesh. They have my favorite lime tree and lemongrass that I love to use in my Asian dish but was just used for tea back home as they don’t know how to use it for culinary purposes.
I felt sadness in my heart when I left home again, I wish I could have stayed longer to share with them how to use all those beautiful herbs and spices in their everyday meals and not only when their health needs it ( a one solution syndrome mentality is still very pervasive). These inspired me to incorporate more herbs and spices to my everyday meal, read researches, journals, and books about each herb and spices and put it into practice through cooking.
“A well-spiced meal with a depth complex flavor does more than just simply excite our taste buds.”- Rosalee De La Foret, Alchemy of Herbs.
Thank you for dropping by and reading my first post. Talk to you soon with all my favorite recipes and indulgence. Let’s make a decadent and delicious experience – Food:)