Beyond the veil that protects my past, lies a wonderful woman, whose life was filled with hardship and of triumphs, an only child whose parents went too early in passing, and because of the war married at a young age of 16. I am not old enough to have witnessed the World Wars first hand, neither was my dad nor do I ever want to experience any war first hand; but I hear the stories of what war brought into the lives on both sides of my family. I piece them together bit by bit to make a whole, memories of the horrible and the wonder, filled with tears and laughter, and most of all, of strength.
This week, I am Thankful for My Grandma’s love
My grandma was a strong woman and lived thru both World Wars and of foreigners overtaking their country land. At a tiny height of 4′ 11″, she gave birth to 9 children. Her legacy contributed such a wonderful plethora of human beings that add to the beauty of this world. She lives in the little things and in the grand, in the tiniest of moments to the biggest of occasions in our lives. She is never forgotten. One can only dream of having made an impact such as she in the lives of those she loved. She passed away at the age of 74, surrounded by family in her home just a few hours short of the new year. I was 25.
Memories through the eyes of a child
I remember her most of all laboring in the kitchen. This was where her passion ignited such wonderful and delicious masterpieces, cooking all learned from years of doing, recipes of which only existed in her memory alone. I only wish she had written them down so I can infuse her recipes in my cooking now. The meals she prepared for us on daily basis were all made from the freshest of ingredients. It was never short of love.
As a child, I remember helping in that dirty kitchen, which was not really dirty in the literal sense, but dirty in that we did all the preparations and cooking in it. And despite the light, it still felt dark and shadowy surrounded by 3 cemented walls adorned by copper bakeware we used to make Leche Flan. The fourth wall was made screen to allow air and light to naturally flow in. Across the screen wall is my grandfather’s garden, bringing in the fresh scent of sun-ripened Guyabano (Sour Sop), Santol, Guavas, among many more. I love that garden too.
She cooked on open fire, and I remember as a child opening the pot and mixing the rice around so it wouldn’t stick together when cooked. The smell of fresh rice cooking deliciously fills my senses up to this day and at times throws me back to those happy childhood days. I have memories of grating fresh coconuts on this wooden seat with a grate in the end and squeezing the freshly grated coconut after to collect coconut milk for a dish she was making, the desiccated parts upcycled into a dessert. She was good at not wasting food.
With 9 kids, one income,
her budget savviness has got to be on point.
She visited the market every morning of every day. Partly to get ideas of what to cook that day, partly to get her morning exercise to stay nimble, and partly to chat and catch up with friends. Exercise and socialization all natural ways to feed the soul. I love that about her. Sometimes I walked with her to the market, careful not to get lost in the bustle of life. It was so lively there, filled with so much laughter, of recognition, of a sense of belonging in a community that cared for each other. I remember, getting a taste of watermelon as we passed by vendors, a triangle shape has been cut into it to give us a taste just how sweet it is. Vendors would call my grandma by name, enticing her to buy their goods, chat a bit, laugh a bit. It was really such a wonderful experience for the soul to feel you belonged.
The only time I’ve ever
-refused her cooking was when she served us frog meat and escargot (snail). I have my limits and I’m not afraid to let her know. I just couldn’t get myself to eat it. To this day, I have never tasted frog meat or escargot and I know I’m not really missing out not having tasted these two. I will take anybody’s words that it tastes like chicken and pass along the knowledge to the person willing to try.
Having been exposed to her love of cooking, it is of no great surprise that I inherited this love of cooking; but, it laid dormant for years because my mom spoiled us and had food already ready and waiting for us kids, despite her 7 am to 7 pm work routine. When the time came that my husband and I married and relocated to Japan, I found myself tapping to my youth and remembering the dishes my grandma made, try to remember how it felt, how it tasted and weaved it in the food I cooked. Often I find myself when eating out breaking the dish to try and attempt replicating it at home. I’m not going to lie, my cooking skills developed over time.
My future goals include posting vegan-friendly recipes on my blog. For the meantime, you will find meals I prepare for my family while being budget savvy starting Monday next week, entitled Declutter Series: Grocery Budget. Read more about why I started this declutter challenge series here. I hope you check it out. This is a way for me to pay tribute to the woman who instilled in me the love of food and cooking.
My, that’s a handful, isn’t it? But that is what this is, a post on a Thursday, looking back into the past to give thanks. This week, I give thanks for a wonderful woman who had such a great impact in my life.
Have you a person in your life who have made such an impact but you just didn’t know at the time until you’ve matured and they’re gone? And now it’s too late to give them thanks? I wish I had the mental capacity back then to show my gratitude for what she has instilled in me. She is and will always be greatly remembered.