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A Loving Memory of Meals Once Shared

A Loving Memory of Meals Once Shared

Food & Entertaining | May 14, 2021
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Chef Robby Goco rediscovers the simple joys of cooking, explores what enjoying a meal truly means, and shares a well-loved family recipe.

Sharing a meal is a basic social activity. When we have something to celebrate, we eat together. Triumphs—both big and small—call for a “blowout”. Even when we are upset, we want to eat with someone (then come home to that faithful tub of ice cream). Visitors are asked if they’ve eaten, and at the end of parties, it’s customary for us Filipinos to send food home with them.

However, this pandemic has put a screeching halt to all of that. Where once relationships are sealed and commemorated with meals, it is now discouraged. Mostly because these gatherings mean eating out and taking off that mask. The risks are just too high!

Of Fond Memories and Nostalgia

The only upside is that we’ve rediscovered the simple joys of cooking for and eating with our families. We see the tenderness when our parents prepare the ingredients and the eagerness by which children anticipate the meal. To some families, the breakthrough is that mom can make a sourdough loaf! For others, it can be as simple and comforting as toasty corned beef with good old sinangag.

Almost everything that we love about food is attached to a memory—from your favorite uncle manning the grill at lola‘s house to the sandwiches we pack for out-of-town trips. When we partake in our favorite food, the original memory being replayed by all of our senses.

And once we’ve shared this with those we hold close in our prayers at night, may we start dreaming of brighter tomorrows.

Adapting Amid the Pandemic

Before this pandemic, I was a man in a hurry.  My head was filled with all these food concepts and my R&D team could barely keep up with the dishes that I wanted to try. And just last year, the restaurant business was almost brought down to its knees.

We see our favorite places closing down and barren restaurants—a ghost of the bustling places they used to be. We see chefs scrambling to redo their menu as they try everything to keep their heads above water. All this—without sacrificing the dining philosophy behind each establishment.

For us, we needed to evolve through rapidly-changing scenarios with our suppliers, landlords, workers, and customers. We had to help each other so the chain of humanity is maintained. We had to adapt and create a new menu that still uses the best ingredients. After all, these meals had to taste just as good after it has traveled from our restaurant kitchen to your home. Similarly, we observe the strictest safety protocols so you are safe. And this included agonizing over packaging and handling.

That way, the experience, the memory, of dining with us is transported to the safety of your own sanctuary.

The Simple Joys of Cooking Meals

And now, I’ve taken the time to take things easy—to rediscover the simple joys of cooking. To revisit memories that my meals once brought. For me, but most importantly, for my family.

Let me share with you a recipe for a truly moist and flavourful roast chicken. This one’s made with the simplest ingredients—common pantry staples. No brining required, yet this roast has flavors that are spot on and warm. It brings bits and pieces of sunny days and shared laughter when we were out and carefree. A time when we weren’t fearful for ourselves and the people we love in the face of this frightening predator.

In the quiet afternoons when I step back and gently roast a leg of lamb with oregano, lemon, and potatoes, I still dream of seeing our clients come back to the restaurant. I want to see them celebrate their joys—my staff pleased to share in the glow of this feast as they serve food and drink. I want to preserve my young daughter’s smile as she tastes her first banana cream pie and my wife’s little dance when she knows I made her a perfectly roasted apahap (seabass).

May the memory of meals once shared, and the promise of future delicacies tasted, keep us together: hopeful and brave.

Photos from Unsplash.com

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Cooking as a Sensory Experience

Turning To Food: The Year That Ate Us

On Loving, Living, and Learning

With more than 20 years of professional cooking, kitchen management and restaurant experience, Chef Robby Goco is responsible for all-time favourites such as Cyma, Souv! By Cyma, Green Pastures, Charlie’s Grind and Grill, Cangrejos Locos and the list goes on. He believes in constant innovation and outdoing himself each and every time. He is a staunch supporter of everything sustainable and local. When he is not grinding in his restaurants’ kitchens, he is happily whipping up feasts for his wife and two daughters at home.
More from Robby Goco

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