Food For Thought and After Thoughts

Agnes Bautista, Honorable Mention
10th Grade

Where’s the Lumpia?!

It’s inevitable that the question would come up in a Filipino family gathering as guests queue up at the buffet table. And despite all the best effort in convincing them that there is a whole lot of other choices available, heads will roll without that so-called egg roll. The lumpia is practically a must on that party plate. For us, it can’t really be a party without some scrumptious and delicious lumpia. Just ask anyone.

When I first arrived in the United States to settle in a land that was only as familiar as the Hollywood movies and television shows I was fond of, I was nothing but merely a wide eyed preteen who had expectations, hopes, and ambitions. It was an entirely different world for me, especially being the youngest in our family to come here as immigrants. Coming to live in the West Coast, or specifically in the city of Vallejo, California, more than a thousand miles away from my mother country, was initially and completely overwhelming, even nerve-wracking. Over time, I learned to make the most of my experiences. I guess it was because of the feeling of family, of being cared for with generous helpings of love and encouragement. I must admit the food as well motivated and strengthened me to keep myself going.

Filipino food for our family is very symbolic and important. Its taste transcends our rich heritage, illuminating our pride of who we are. Eating my favorite dishes like ‘Sinigang’ and ‘Adobo’ lifts me to heights of nostalgia, bringing me back to my vibrant past in the Philippines. I joyfully recall those pleasant memories of me and my loved ones eating around the table, engaged in lively conversations and stuffing ourselves with some decadent and scrumptious Filipino delicacies and specialties.  All these conjure up those precious and priceless moments I shall always cherish for years to come.

Currently, I have taken the dauntless challenge of cooking our famed and time honored   ‘Lumpia.”  Coming from a long line of culinary wizards can be intimidating. I’m still learning how to make a really good one, and somehow, with my initial efforts at wielding the magic kitchen wand, I really believe I can do it. All I need is to keep an open mind and the drive to keep on trying. My mom advised me that I just had to plan well, be calm and patient, rolling each one with precision and attention to detail to the process it entails. You set everything up, under the most ideal conditions, with the right degree and correct temperature.

Will I come up with the ground pork breaking, dice ‘em, slice ‘em, bite-sized lumpia my grandmother and mom would approve of? It’s the story of my life, I guess so far. I know it’s bound to happen. Cooking up the perfect ‘Lumpia’ has taught me what I have likewise learned growing up here in America. In my journey, I have unraveled challenges with diligence and determination, mixing up the right ingredients with great effort and being open to change, with the same open mind to wise counsel, the desired outcome will soon come its way.

At our next family gathering, much like the All-American, all-time favorite game of baseball, I hope to step up to the proverbial plate, with my very own winning home run, the best ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’ lumpia on this side of the Pacific. Even Willy Wonka might love it, and that would earn me a golden ticket. Dreams do happen, that much I’ve learned coming here to America.