I've been lucky enough to have a multitude of "grandmothers" in my life. Two of my paternal grandmother's sisters live with my grandmother and grandfather. And although my grandmother's sisters may technically be my "great aunties," I actually call all three sisters "Grandma." Confusing, but true.
My brothers, and pretty much the rest of my family, all refer to my great aunts as "Auntie" and my grandmother as "Grandma". So I'm not sure how or why I came to lump my grandmother and her sisters into the same "Grandma" category, but it's something I've done since childhood.
All in all though, I don't think any of the sisters mind. In fact, I think they all like being called "Grandma." Afterall, the coveted title of "Grandma" seems to magically transform a woman into a "Culinary Superhero." As such, each of my grandmothers has a specific Filipino specialty in their superhero arsenal. For instance, one of my grandmother's sisters makes a pinakbet I swoon for, the other sister makes some mean Miki (a type of Filipino noodle dish), and my grandmother herself specializes in any and everything sweet.
So whenever to grandmother's (grandmothers') house I go, I am guaranteed to be treated to a family feast on many fronts. I am truly one lucky son of a gun to have access to wonderful Filipino food from three great grandmothers.
But thanks to Pat Tanumihardja's new book, The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, everyone can now have access to an extra set of grandmothers, and their recipes to boot.
As the title suggests, The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook (published by Sasquatch Books) features over 100 recipes from different Asian grandmothers, mothers, and aunties. Pat Tanumihardja went to great lengths to write this cookbook (it's huge!). In addition to the various Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Indian, Korean, Thai, and Filipino recipes, Pat also compiled a series of short biographies entitled, "Profile of a Grandma", within her cookbook. These profiles provide the wonderful stories and backgrounds of a few of the grandmothers that contributed to the book--a book that is simply incredible in terms of recipes and content.
One particular "Profile of a Grandma" that I found interesting was that of a woman named Gloria Santos. Ms. Santos grew up in the Philippines and did most of her household's cooking as a teen during WWII. Later, Ms. Santos became a teacher and married, but with a busy career she had no time to cook--leaving that task to her maid. Then in 1968, Ms. Santos and her growing family fled the Philippines and moved to the U.S., where she would have to recall and relearn the Filipino dishes she made as a teenager back home. Today, Ms. Santos continues to cook for her family and grandchildren during holidays and family gatherings.
For The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, Gloria Santos contributed a wonderful recipe for Suman Sa Gata.
Suman Sa Gata is a Filipino snack of sweet glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and sugar, and then wrapped and steamed in banana leaves. The resultant dish is sorta like a Filipino candy bar--minus the chocolate, nuts, caramel, and nougat. Ok, so it's not really like a candy bar. But it is delicious! A delicious sticky rice dessert packaged and perfumed with fragrant banana leaf.
Suman Sa Gata also happens to be a specialty of my own grandmother (you know, the superhero of sweets). During holidays and special occasions at my grandmother's house, there always seems to be a platter piled high with Suman. And I'm always the first one to grab a parcel of the sweet rice, being sure to carefully unwrap the banana leaf so that my fingers don't get sticky.
And truthfully, the Suman Sa Gata recipe in The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook is just as good as my own grandmother's recipe (GASP!). Like I said earlier, the title of "Grandma" magically transforms women and their food, and I guess that magic transcends family ties too!In addition to the Suman Sa Gata recipe, Pat Tanumihardja also provides a number of other Filipino recipes in The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook. These recipes include Sinangag (garlic-fried rice), Lumpia, Beef Inasal, Chicken Adobo, Easy Lechon, Pancit, Embutido, Bibinka, and Turon.
I'm also happy to say that a version of my own beloved Pinakbet recipe is featured in The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook! I'm even mentioned by name in the headnote on page 111! Although I'm not an Asian grandmother, much of what I do on this blog is inspired by my grandmother and her sisters, so it was great to see Pinakbet in The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook.
If you want to see the Pinakbet recipe, and many other great Asian recipes, you'll have to pick up a copy of The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, available now on Amazon and at bookstores everywhere.
For more information, you can also visit Pat's blog at http://theasiangrandmotherscookbook.wordpress.com/.
You can also visit Pat's website at http://www.ediblewords.com/.