Kampung Bayan- What does that mean? What is it?
Kampung in Malay means home town and Bayan translates directly to place in Tagalog.
This idea and collaboration with Woks Cluckin got me thinking about what home means to me and how the most nostalgic memories I have are of dinners around the table. In fact most of my happiest memories are about the food we ate and sometimes I have no recollection of days or times but can always remember whether the food was bad or great.
I thought I would talk about a few food memories through my upbringing and Kampung Bayan.
My most vivid memories of being young in The Philippines is going to the local tinadahan (shop) and buying small individual sweets to enjoy with my cousins. Chocnut, jelly, ice candy are only a few to name. I remember dancing in thunder storms whenever it rained during tropical showers and getting told off because I would catch a cold. When it was my school holidays in the summer- it was the wet season in The Philippines. I also remember eating well those summers. Very well.
My Tita had a little shop where she sold her home cooked meals for locals to buy and share. I would eat there and then go home and eat again! no wonder I I’ve always been a little bit chubby all my life- I have always just loved food even at a young age. My Tita Sarah’s Menudo - a savoury and sweet Pork dish that has tomatoes, vegetables and Soy was always my favourite. I never liked liver but always enjoyed it whenever she made it and added it into this dish. She would chop the vegetables and pork so small that every bit of vegetable and pork was perfectly covered in the sauce. I have a massive respect for that knowing that she took the time to chop and prepare these ingredients the way she did.
The amazing food I enjoyed wasn’t just in The Philippines. Growing up in Saudi Arabia was also the same. Compound life was like a massive community and I would often also eat at my neighbors house and then go home to eat again! This fare would entail amazing crab curries, Chicken Biryani, the best BBQ (Brai) and also Filipino dishes. I had a few South African neighbors that were family and all treated me like I was their own. Aunty Pearl made the best rice dishes and I especially always loved her “Spicy Cabbage.” I don’t know what she did to that cabbage but it was always so delicious. I just think now that at such a young age I was enjoying such a variety of food and cuisines. Don’t get me wrong- we still enjoyed the fast food we could get in Saudi but I always loved the food that was cooked in my neighbours houses.
I remember the massive BBQ parties that would be held at the compound.Uncle Neils lamb chops were particularly good- I always remember that. He used to chop down trees and have people over regularly to enjoy their food and would share it with everyone on the compound. I loved how much we had this massive community feel and that I got the chance to enjoy the food and be part of their culture through this sharing of food and stories.
Whilst I was also well versed with South African cuisine, I also remember my friend Rhea and her Mum teaching me how to make Tinola one lunch time at her house. This is a delicious Filipino broth with green Papaya, chicken and lots and lots of ginger and garlic. I remember how much garlic Rhea’s mum actually put with this dish ( I love that I remember this food memory even more) because its A L O T and rightfully so- that’s what made this dish so tasty. Till now I make it how they taught me all those years ago.
Whilst I ate so well at home and at my neighbours houses- the local food in Saudi was also something that I thoroughly enjoyed and still remember. Molokhia, Bukhari broasted chicken, Kabsa, Zaatar, Foul to all the Hummus that I enjoyed in all my delicious Shawarmas I inhaled whilst I lived there. I have had many a shawarma but nothing comes close to the ones I had in Mama Noura in Riyadh. The garlic sauce, the chips inside to even me remembering I would open it up to take the pickle out and wrap it back up and only then be able to dig in and enjoy it. It’s a food memory that I have always had and I always tell people if I had one meal to eat if I was ever on death row/ last meal on earth scenario- it would be a Shawarma. I often wonder if I hadn’t enjoyed this food at such an early age whether I would have still have the same love of food that I do now. I do think it has definitely shaped the way I eat and how I love to cook for myself and my loved ones.
So- from my Kampung Bayan to yours- these next series of supper clubs are very special to me and Yen because it is our way of sharing our food stories with you all. I hope from these events you will create your own food memories that you can share with others like I have done with you all tonight.
Tickets available via the EVENTS section/ FB/Insta or my Eventbrite page. The first event kicks off at Ol, Oxford Road where Yen and I first traded together.