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My mother’s recipes

14 April 2016

By Daisy CL Mandap

Christmas time is when most Filipinos crave for the food they were served during their growing-up years in the Philippines. For most, these often include sweet ham, quezo de bola, hot soup, noodles (pancit or spaghetti with sweet meat sauce), roast chicken or pork barbecue, or maybe even lechon. Not to be forgotten are the desserts, from haleyang ube and leche flan, to the super sweet fruit salad.
In my family, these are what is often still served, and more. Coming from a purely Pampango family, our clan gatherings often take the form of mini-feasts, with members being served an array of dishes whose recipes have been handed down and perfected over several generations.
A key figure in all our family gatherings is my mother, Francisca Larin Mandap, who is turing 90 years old in about two months. Up until a mild stroke left her with numbed fingers and frail limbs about three years ago, my mother did all the cooking in the house, even while she worked full-time, and looked after nine children and a true-blue Pampango husband who was picky with food.
Her children, especially her seven daughters, now find themselves struggling to cook the way she did, but the task is formidable. One finds that beyond the recipes that are easily shared, is a special talent that only someone reared in the time-honored way of Filipino cooking could possibly possess.
But we could always try. Below are two of the family's favorite dishes, which our mother used to cook to perfection. The first, bringhe (sometimes referred to as arroz valenciana), is often served on special occasions like Christmas or New Year's eve gathering. The second, pochero, is a staple Pampango dish that often comes to mind when one thinks of what to cook when there's saging na saba in the kitchen.

The recipes here are part of a collection that the family is trying to put together with help from our mother's trusted helper, Zaldy Caro, who had the privilege of working with her in the kitchen for three years. A niece, Lesley Anne Lee, is collating the recipes and pictures of dishes in digital format.
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