Foods That Shaped My Childhood

I can’t really remember where or when my love for food began. I was the biggest baby that my Mom popped out, so it could have even started in the womb. What my Mom and my Yaya (Nanny who took care of me) can tell me is that of all my siblings and cousins, I probably was one of the easier ones to feed. Not that it was always a walk in the park, there was a term used throughout our family for the kids that made mealtime a hellish nightmare, “Babadera” which means one who would store food in the corner of their mouth until it is so dry it becomes inedible. Some of them would be stuck in the table for hours or until the next meal. I’m sure I was branded as that at some point. But I do recall being the type of child that loved to eat. I loved it when my parents would bring us to restaurants, maybe because it was quite rare in those days. When attending children’s parties or family gatherings, I would go straight to the buffet and scope it out. Even as I got older, when my friends were skimming through teen and fashion magazines, I was going through my Mom’s subscriptions of Bon Appetit or Food & Wine.

Looking back, I try to open the memory book in my mind to remember the things I was fed growing up. Though there were many that I came across, I know that these were some of my favorites which I still find myself eating now. Was it just me whose meals were occasionally paired with fruit? I remember clearly that when my Yaya would serve me Adobo and rice, she would have me eat it with a banana or sometimes even mango slices. This I believe is where my love for the joyous mix of sweet and savory in my mouth began. I am one of those people that like a hint of sweetness to their dishes or a sprinkle of sea salt to their dessert.

Asides from Adobo, another childhood staple in my house was Lentejas or Lentil soup. The way it is prepared at home is that the lentils are cooked until they become plump enough to thicken the soup, almost porridge like. It is then flavored with chorizo bilbao, very commonly found in Filipino households.

I don’t remember what restaurants we used to go to when I was young. There must have been a lot less of a selection back then. What I do recall is that no fail, I would ALWAYS order myself a Shirley Temple. I felt so grown up to have this delicious and refreshing cherry flavored mocktail. One of my fondest memories of my Grandmother happened when she took me to lunch with my other cousins when I was around 10 years old. As I asked the waiter for my go to drink, she looked at me and asked “Aren’t you a little too old to be ordering something for little girls?” I was so embarrassed and that was the last time I ordered it. As a teenager I would secretly buy grenadine at the supermarket so I could enjoy it in the privacy of my home where no one could judge me. Today, most of the cocktails I prefer still have that little splash of the fruity red syrup. Asides from the Shirley Temple, another drink I loved was the Magnolia Chocolate Milk in the glass bottles. When I went shopping with my mom, I was allowed one treat and it was either that or a pack of Yakult. That milk was the ultimate comfort. Now, I still occasionally treat myself to a miniature bottle of the Nestle Premium Chocolate Milk, full fat. The feeling of nostalgia makes every calorie worth it.

As a child, I remember walking to the park and playing on the street. Though my mom wasn’t the type to stock up on junk food, I do remember having these super unhealthy chips called Cheeze-it and Peewee. After, I was given little cookies topped with a hardened, colored frosting called Iced Gems. I’m sure my Yaya would buy them in the little village store and give me some. Imagine my surprise when I hit the grocery the other day and found these childhood treasures. I could not help but buy some and indulge a little. The packaging was exactly how I remember it and of course, so was the taste. Talk about a trip down memory lane!


  1. Lisa says:

    Iced Gems! I remember these yummy cookies! I think you came second only to me which being the easiest to feed 😉 Yaya Tor came short of locking the fridge to keep me away!

  2. ttblog says:

    Hahahaha, I remember that Lish :) Next time I visit you, I”ll bring you some Iced Gems!

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