A Cook's Diary

Balikbayans and pinakbet


It’s a fact — Filipinos who live abroad miss Pinoy food. And when they can’t find restaurants that serve decent Pinoy food, they scour the web for recipes and cook all the dishes that they miss. Dishes that remind them of home. Because it eases the homesickness.

And it doesn’t seem to matter whether these overseas Filipinos have been living abroad for a year or ten years. The craving remains. My brother-in-law and his family who have been residents of Chicago since the 1980s came home for a vacation last month and all they wanted to eat was Filipino food. It was their craving that led us to Mr. Moo’s. And when we were in Batangas for a day, guess what they wanted to eat? Pinakbet, crispy pata and grilled tilapia.

Same story with the members of the all-Filipino band in Royal Caribbean’s Legend of the Seas. Between the first and second cruises, we spent half the day in Singapore with the entertainers and where did they want to go? Lucky Plaza which is practically a Filipino turf — Pinoy food in the food court, Filipino goods — including peanuts and chicharon — in the shops, lots of establishments offering “padala” (send home) services… And when we had lunch, what do you think they ordered? While my friend Osang and I feasted on roast duck, the Las Vegas-based Filipino band members had daing na bangus and sinigang.

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