When I left the Philippines for Toronto in 2003, I expected a major shift in my lifestyle. I left the Philippines for political, and socio-economic reasons; the latter being the more important. I wanted to re-adjust my life to something more meaningful or, at least, to a more acceptable standard of living whereby I would be proud to call my new life in my new adopted country my own. I was too attached to family back in Manila and at that age, I was supposedly should be living independently on my own. The move had had to happen somehow, and, surely it did. It was a major sigh of relief.
When I had begun my journey to a new life in Toronto, I had had to adapt to a whole new set of life challenges. My first so-called ‘home’ was in a basement. I lived quietly in a basement of a house in the suburbs in the eastern part of town for three months before moving higher to a room; sharing a three-bedroom apartment with two other couples. I occupied the master’s bedroom located at the far end of the hallway. It was a challenge and a struggle to keep up with frenetic pace the city had offered, but fortunately, I managed to survive; maintaining at least two part-time jobs at a time to pay the bills. That was the norm for many. Due to work related circumstances, I moved to the downtown core area and settled to a bachelor’s pad which I could finally call my own. It took me almost two years to find this quiet, secluded abode. It was a run-down apartment building, but it gave me peace and quiet after a long day at work. I badly needed that, and the commute to and from the city to the suburbs was taxing.
When I was sharing the kitchen with two other couples, there was usually no time to eat nor relax on the dining table. Everybody was up and about coming from work; doing their thing in the small kitchen. One of the two couples was also occupying the table. I really had no place or space to savour and enjoy the meal I cooked. Since I was alone and single, I was nudged to the side. I was quite exhausted too from work, and just to finish my meal, I would stand at the kitchen counter top just beside the stovetop and eat my dinner right then and there. I learned to eat fast from work and it was pretty much the same thing in the apartment. I also ate fast just to catch-up more on sleep and rest, which were truly precious to me. I needed them badly before starting another grueling work in the retail outlet store where I had worked as a maintenance clerk. It was one of the worst jobs I had, by the way. Anyway, the thought of scurriedly eating in the kitchen when it shouldn’t be case brought this blog into life.
‘Lamon sa Kusina’ summarizes the food I cooked, ate and tried before I started my ‘life’ in the kitchen. I could still clearly recall what I made in that small, overcrowded kitchen. ‘Lamon sa Kusina’ would also feature some comfort food which I had longed for being away from the Philippines. I strongly feel I really didn’t miss much of the actual Filipino food I ate in Manila; given the abundance and wealth of other ingredients in this side of the world and after a short stint in Culinary School. However, I could safely say I made some vicious ‘comfort’ meals back then just to satisfy my cravings. I’m still making them now with an additional twist to punctuate and enliven the dish and have it called my creation. That train of thought of eating, preparing, and cooking something comfortable and nourishing is ‘Lamon sa Kusina;’ ideas and thoughts that sometimes wouldn’t scram and go away until they have been written down and tested. I also learned some cooking techniques from my former roommates which up to now I still keep in my files. That was nearly ten years ago. They too made some wonderful dishes.