Like most Asian mothers, my mother’s Powers of Nagging are magnified a hundred-fold when in the kitchen. Likewise, my sensitivity to her nagging is proportionally heightened – which is why I haven’t attempted to cook anything in her kitchen since the great Turkey Debacle of 2002. It’s another story for another time, but I quickly want to give a sampling of my mother’s “constructive criticism” from that night:
"Why is your turkey in a bucket of water? Do you know what you’re doing?”
“We don't eat cranberry sauce, why are you making that?”
“You're gonna make rice aren't you?”
“Are you gonna be much longer, your Dad's already falling asleep.”
“This drumstick is still pink inside!"
And on and on she went.
Praise isn't a concept my family quite understands, but they are masters of criticism - especially my mother. After that night, I swore I would never, ever, cook anything again for my family - especially my mother.
(Wait, what’s that you say? A vendetta taken too far? Against my own mother? Listen, Ass, you try cooking up some white-people-food for an impossible-to-please-hungry-Filipino-family and get back to me about vendettas.) Ahem. Uh, anyhoo…
Five years later, that promise to myself is getting harder to keep, especially now that I’m wanting to learn more about Filipino food. I can't exactly cull Filipino recipes from my mother without having to cook with her. So, I put my kitchen blood feud against my mother aside, at least for one day, and asked her to show me how to make lumpia – a fried (generally speaking that is, lumpia can also be prepared unfried and fresh) Filipino appetizer similar to a spring roll.
And you know what? It was a pretty good experience.