Not all Filipino households these days are the same as in the past. The family unit is no longer the way it was. Unlike some of my cousins, my family is still intact and complete. I have Manila-based cousins whose parents have separated. I have province-based cousins whose mom or dad is abroad to work away from them. This is probably why it is imperative for some kids who were left behind to carry on the cooking knowledge and styles of their elders.
In Filipino homes, it’s been a standard for housewives to serve Sautéed Mongo every Fridays. As a kid I would know my mom to religiously follow this tradition. Fortunately, it’s still part of the Filipino diet as the commercial food industry has incorporated it into their menu every Friday. Countless of carinderias and office/school canteens always schedule serving the dish on the same day. Mongo is surprisingly available any time of the week even in restaurants like Cafe Bola.
Saturday night became my finest food experience when I tasted Cafe Bola’s version of the dish. The twist was in the inclusion of ham bits in the mix. Of course, the ampalaya leaves made the distinctive balance as part of the traditional recipe of the dish. Some versions even have chicharon bits, but I simulated its effect on the palate by ordering a sampling of our native dilis. Amazingly, the dilis I had was uniquely small in size and delicately cooked to be extra-crunchy. The combo of the smooth mongo and crunchy dilis in my mouth was pure heaven.
I can only hope the same for my relatives and for countless of Filipino kids who have been left behind, for whatever reason, to recall how it was for their elders to cook mongo for them every Friday. Today’s generation is after all the next one that will tend to the future’s Filipino youth. They can continue the tradition. Kung ‘di man nila matutunan ang pagluto ng mongo at dilis (at ng iba pang Filipino dish), sana’y tangkilikin pa rin nila ang pagkain nito kahit man lang sa mga restaurants that serve it para ‘di sila makalimot.
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