Hi everyone, I can’t believe I’ve been living here for TEN MONTHS now. Whooah. Scary or what?
It feels like it was only yesterday when I arrived. But I truly can feel the difference. I have adjusted to a lot of things. Fortunately. Even my eating habits are different (which should naturally be). I’m already eating pizza with chicken wings instead of chicken wings and rice as my main meal. I also don’t see burger or pizza as snacks anymore (they’re huge here.) More on that later.
The first time I set my foot on the land of the United States. It didn’t really dawn on me yet the impact that my life is truly going to change. Let me say almost 360 degrees especially when it comes to food. Generally, Filipinos love to eat rice in every meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). I grew up eating rice- it’s our staple food coupled with a viand (a tasty dish to eat with a neutral tasting rice like meat, vegetable or fish). Let’s not even dare to talk about the yummy soy sauce with kalamansi dip here.
I arrived in LAX or Los Angeles Airport around seven in the evening of 9th of June and there is still daylight. Well- I am aware by this time about “different sunset and sunrise” and about the “daylight savings” but still I have found it so weird to finally experience it. In the Philippines, we have consistent sunset and sunrise which is around five or six in the afternoon. Our temperature also doesn’t fluctuate as much.. it is just usually constant most days. It’s truly a tropical paradise. We only have summer and rainy season (although, it feels like it’s always summer recently.. lol).
I remember being so excited. It’s all new and unfamiliar to me. There’s this energetic electric buzz running in an ecstatic frenzy in my veins and I was just simply doting with everything. It all looks like a work of art and wonder to me. Back in my native country, I can only encounter a few “Made in USA” products and now that I’m in the land of United States… everything is really “Made in USA” figuratively and literally. So imagine my excitement! It was like I was humming endlessly.
You can see how rich and clean the country is and how Philippines couldn’t match it (hopefully, someday we can). Anyway, so my first meal after my arrival that night was in the hotel we were staying at around nine in the evening. They were almost close. We were the only customers. I remembered looking for an option with rice. I didn’t remember exactly what I’ve ordered. But I remember tasting the green olive and I didn’t like it. Lol, it’s really an acquired taste.
The next day which I officially called my first day in the United States. We went to Huntington Beach and had a brunch in Ruby’s. An American diner that offers nostalgic American food.
It was a lot of food. The shock of eating such a huge huge meal my small mind just couldn’t seem to comprehend it yet. That there is an unlimited of drinks (coca-cola, pepsi, lemonade, ice tea and even milk-shake). The meal is enough to feed a family in the Philippines. I’m not going to say an army because that would be an exaggeration.
I love, love, love the milk-shake. It was so rich, creamy and heavenly. It was far from the milk-shake I had in the Philippines.
This is what I’ve ordered (cod fish) which I didn’t like that much. I was so picky at that time and still looking for a meal with rice. Although, I am also trying to eat new food and slowly introducing them to my palate and system. Also their HUUUGE SIZE makes me not eat them ‘coz just looking at them makes me already full. I don’t know if that makes sense. So we just put them in a box to take home or in our case hotel. I have enjoyed eating the french fries plus the milk shake which made me full instantly.
To tell you the truth, I have always been looking forward to eating and although as a Filipino, we like eating most of our own food. Foreign food in the Philippines are limited. I have only been in a few authentic Korean Restaurants which is the most available foreign food restaurants there as well as American, Spanish and Mexican cuisine. With American restaurants I don’t think they are authentic because from my point of perspective and experience now… they are very “Filipinized” which isn’t surprising of course because of the market they are targeting are Filipinos.
You can see how the medium rare steak is almost always well-done. We like our meat really dead or almost burned. We like to chop it in smaller pieces and eat it with rice. We grew up eating it that way so we don’t really see the “other side” of it. We don’t like the idea of a red meat which is bloody or somewhat raw. It just doesn’t make sense for us. It sounds horrendous and “cannibalistic” which is actually not the case at all. Now, I have realized that. Lol.
So the first time I ate an authentic American “medium rare steak”, it was like the curtains of the heaven opened up and the kingdom stared me straight in the eyes. I am finally seeing a whole new world. It was so tasty and juicy. The meat is so soft and tender, so easy to chew and just kinda melts into your mouth. It’s a real meat and a meat should taste like this. What have I been missing this entire time? I should’ve known this all along. Now this is one of my favorite American food. It just transports you into a new different level of yumminess.
In ten months, I have adjusted to most of the food and my eating habits have drastically changed which is somehow not possible if I was still living in the Philippines. There was such a limited availability of “other food options” there. You can see almost the same food in the menus in most restaurants especially fried chicken with a cup of rice. Not that I’m complaining, we just love to fry our food because it’s fast and delicious. And rice just tastes good and goes with everything and it’s also very filling. It always leaves you satisfied and happy. So a meal without a rice just doesn’t sound like a meal to me. Until… I got here in the United States.
A burger or a pizza or tacos are already considered a meal. They are kinda considered as snacks in the Philippines. We like to eat them especially around three in the afternoon. We call it our “merienda” or mid-afternoon snack. But they’re usually in small sizes so they aren’t that filling. But here in the United States, most food sizes are “gigantic” even grocery food items. The family size in the Philippines is equivalent of an individual size or the smallest size of the food grocery item here. It was kinda shocking or mesmerizing at first. Now, I am used to it. I have gained ten pounds by the way. Yeah. Lol.
I also have to mention that there are lots of food options here. You can find anything even almost unimaginable. The food companies seems to know exactly what’s on our mind. What we are craving for and even if we aren’t craving for them yet. They exactly know what to offer and make us want after them and want for more and more.
In the Philippines, when we talk about cereals there is only like two to four brands that you can see or find in most grocery markets but here in the United States… there is a lot of them. The first time we went to the grocery, I was dumbfounded how many the food items are. Grocery and bookstore are my happy places and I like to go to the grocery stores in the Philippines and check on different food items although I only buy one or two food items. So I know exactly what I’m talking about here. It confused me and left me lightheaded that there’s so many options. It was just honestly dizzying.
On a lighter note, I am enjoying now the liberty of eating different cuisines and especially can survive eating without rice for days (but not for weeks lol). I love potatoes, pasta and vegetables like asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms as side dishes and also serves as alternative for rice. I have also come to understand why pizza can be called as lunch same with burger or sandwich or nachos or tacos. Why meat can taste so good even though it’s not burned looking.
I am still continuously learning and trying to expand my palate and harness my taste buds. I am not of an adventurous person especially when it comes to food. But food has such a big role when it comes to culture. So for you to adjust, you should learn how to bend. This is why I am enjoying the best of both worlds. I love both Filipino and American food now. I like being in between, appreciating and loving both of them. Seeing them in full contrast and boldest of colors. The celebration of flavors.
I have come a long way. No longer missing a lot of my food instead collecting my very own “nostalgic American food” like those brownies that my mother in law made when we were playing card games. Also, Kansas City Ribs which will be the subject of my next post lol. Medium rare steak is a new favorite and creme brulee for dessert. Also, pizza and chicken wings with honey garlic sauce plus blue cheese for the dip. Heavenly grilled cheese and tomato soup. I can go on and on and on.
United States is a paradise for food because of the availability and abundance of a lot of things. This is where most exports from different countries worldwide wants to get into. The food market here is crazy and very successful.
So I will talk more about food in my next posts. Like in Filipino culture, food plays a big role in the American culture. Of course because I also love food and I love talking about it. 🙂 When we are celebrating life, it is always equivalent to having yummy delicious food on our table. Life should be a sumptuous feast. Generous, happy and abundant. Food is influential and a key for a happier life.