In this new series, Lifestyle Asia speaks with individuals who were bit with the food business bug during the early days of Enhanced Community Quarantine and how their passions led them to cooking, baking and selling in the middle of a pandemic.
Former Lifestyle Asia Managing Editor Carmen Silverio-Roxas shares that she had always been afraid to enter the kitchen. “The thought of having to “make” food scared me. I love to eat and will always spend for good food. But I never wanted to cook. My mentality was always, “I will just spend for good food or eat out,’” she says.
Carmen and her mom own a comfort food restaurant in Powerplant Mall called Mamita’s Table, which serves her Mamita’s famous home-cooked recipes, the specialty being Sinigang Short Ribs among other Spanish-Filipino favorites. Cooking during the lockdown became a necessity because they were forced to bring home all the raining stock to ensure it wouldn’t go to waste. “It was great eating all of Mamita’s Table’s food the first few weeks, especially since food was scarce in the beginning of lockdown,” she says, but after awhile, we were craving for other dishes.” This forced Carmen to experiment in the kitchen, so she could feed her four children and her parents other kinds of food.
Eventually, people started asking for Mamita’s Table’s famous sinigang. Carmen started making it and delivering to neighboring villages, since the mall had been closed. “That started an entire new chapter of my life. After 41 years, I now find myself spending ¾ of my day inside the kitchen. And actually enjoying it!” she exclaims, mentioning that her family and friends are shocked. “They cannot believe it. They keep teasing me, saying “It’s a whole new Carmen after lockdown!””
Along with the dishes offered at Mamita’s table, Carmen started experimenting and trying out all sorts of recipes online. “Super long and complicated recipes still scare and overwhelm me. I look for simple ones and always check the list of ingredients first,” she says, “I haven’t gone to the grocery since before lockdown. I order everything online so it’s a bit difficult to stock my pantry when a lot of things are out of stock.” Having to order everything piecemeal from different suppliers was daunting, but everything was a new experience that added a degree of fun. Choosing to be resourceful, she selects recipes based on what she, her kids and her mom are craving for. “So far, I have an eight out of ten success rate when I bring out my dishes,” she says, “not bad for a beginner who’s been afraid of cooking her whole life.”
When the quarantine period ends, Carmen knows there will be more hurdles to overcome. “But that’s an entirely different article,” she says, “for now, I’m happy to admit that I’m one of those who learned a life skill or two during this historical COVID-19 pandemic.”
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