cooking


Have you been to the little hole in the wall of a restaurant called Pinoy at second circle? Its tiny little restaurant that serves Pilipino food and on the wall is a sign that says “we have hallo hallo”. Firstly, the name is just beautiful you want keep saying it halo hallo, hallo hallo, hallo it’s so much fun. Secondly, it’s a nice cold sweet drink that has chunks of fruit, jelly beans, and sweet corn. The drink is made by placing the chunky bits at the bottom, adding crushed ice to that and then filling the top with condensed milk. When you get it you have to stir it all up and then hallo hallo you have your drink to eat and sip all at the same time.

If you aren’t interested in the drink then try out some of their ethnic dishes. All of them are prepared by Pilipino women, so you know you are getting the real deal. And it seems that every day the menu changes because once you go in above the kitchen window is a little white board with “today’s menu” on it, each item written out neatly and its price tag next to it. Everything was freshly made that day, it all looked good and what we had tasted good.

Pinoy is place run by Pilipinos for their community, so sitting there you can observe the goings and comings of the customers. I was fascinated by all the women that were chattering and ordering and coming and going. I wanted to stay longer but the place filled up and I guess they needed the table since we were done. I highly recommend that you drop by the dinky hole in the wall for a good meal and a very different and casual dining experience.

I started to cook at age 12. It was out of necessity and so not a joy. I was taught to cook over the phone and with notes left in the kitchen with instructions from my mother. I went from using precise measurements and exact steps to my own style of throwing in handfuls of things and using my eyes to measure out salt and spices. I would prep my foods in the morning before school and return to finish off the meal in the afternoon before everyone else came back from school. I continued to cook for our household until I was 22, at which point I hung up my apron and said no more.

My relationship with cooking was formed by obligation and not out of love for the kitchen. But once I stopped cooking out of obligation, I realized that I liked to cook and feed people. So now when I cook it is because I want to. I also recognized a couple of years ago that when in distress, I cook. 

There is a sense of accomplishment, there is acknowledgment, and a sharing of joy when you cook for people. Yesterday, I cooked for three hours and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. I loved thinking of the menu, setting my shopping list, prepping, frying, chopping, cooking, baking, all of it. My favorite part of the meal was when I laid out the table with all the cooked dishes, their smells, and flavors wafting up to us. Our mouths watering in anticipation. Our eyes feasting on the colorful array of foods. It was picture perfect. We dove in, tasting all dishes, leaving nothing to our imagination. 

The satisfied looks and the full bellies told me the meal was a success and that is the reward of a pleasure afternoon in the kitchen. 

For those that are curious our menu was:

Sweet Corn Chicken Soup
Musaka (Greek Style)
Spinach Artichokes with chicken and ginger
Ginger Jasmine rice
Baked Chicken and Potatoes
Vanilla and Chocolate Ripple Ice Cream