Food and Recipes Inspired by My Mom Celia

By Bianca Garcia

Continuing our May celebration of mothers, I want to talk about my mom, Celia. She is my most influential food guides. She has always been the first one to introduce me to different tastes and flavors from all over the world. I learned to love food because of her, and as fate would have it, I now have a food blog where I can share my favorite foods with the world, too.

Here are some of my mom-inspired recipes and favorite foods that I’ve shared on my blog:

kesong puti, pan de sal, tsokolate © Bianca Garcia

kesong puti, pan de sal, tsokolate © Bianca Garcia

It all started when I was still in utero, and my pregnant mom was constantly craving and eating kesong puti, the milky white cheese that’s native to the Philippines. It’s essentially buffalo mozzarella, but creamier and fresher. According to Filipino superstition, my mom’s pregnancy craving was the main reason why I myself developed a lifelong longing for kesong puti.

sardinas © Bianca Garcia

sardinas © Bianca Garcia

My mom is the one who taught me to love sardinas (sardines), the Spanish or Portuguese kind, in oil and spices. I love these little sardines (that still have skin and bones), on top whole wheat bread, toasted dark, slathered with creamy butter.

key lime pie © Bianca Garcia

key lime pie © Bianca Garcia

My mom loves key lime pie, and (surprise!) so do I. Key limes are smaller than regular limes, with a more yellowish skin, instead of bright green. They are very similar to Filipino calamansi. I would juice a million key limes by hand for my mom!

(Here’s my easy recipe for Key Lime Pie.)

caramel thumbprint cookies © Bianca Garcia

caramel thumbprint cookies © Bianca Garcia

My mom cannot turn down anything “turtle” flavored - chocolate, caramel, pecans. These little turtle cookies are a nice little treat. Like me, she enjoys dessert. But unlike me, she’s typically content with smaller portions (ha!).

(Here’s my recipe for Caramel Thumbprint Cookies.)


My mom makes me feel like I can do anything. She believes that I can go to Harvard, land my my dream job(s), star in a TV show, rule the world. Thanks to her encouragement and support, I have done it all. Well, I’m still waiting on that last part, but Beyonce says we already run the world anyway…

Her faith in my cooking also helped me finally recreate her famous pasta sauce, which is like a mixture of a bolognese with a surf and turf plate. It’s a meat-lovers sauce (ground beef + bacon + Italian sausage) with big juicy shrimp. It’s as mouth-watering as it sounds.   

(Here’s the recipe for My Mom’s Pasta Sauce.)

mini almond cinnamon buns © Bianca Garcia

mini almond cinnamon buns © Bianca Garcia

When I see any kind of citrus marmalade - orange, lemon, grapefruit - I immediately think of my mom. And when I see a breakfast treat or pastry studded with nuts - almonds, pecans, walnuts - I think of my mom as well. I wanted to make a citrusy breakfast inspired by her favorite flavors, and landed on little cinnamon buns with almond paste, slivered almonds, and Meyer lemon marmalade.

Meyer lemons, by the way, are like a cross between a lemon and an orange. They’re sweet and not as tart as their more ubiquitous cousins. They’re also smaller with a thinner skin that has a slightly more orange tint, and they come into season during mid-winter to late spring. They remind me of Filipino dalandan.

(Here’s my recipe for Mini Almond Cinnamon Buns.)

crab cake linguini © Bianca Garcia

crab cake linguini © Bianca Garcia

Even though I’m a woman in my thirties, I am not exactly adept at eating crab, one of my favorite seafoods. That’s because whenever I’m home or with my parents, I turn into a child and ask my mom to do the work  for me. Shell the crab, pick the meat, open the claws – the whole show. She’s just so adept at it! (And I’m too lazy.) My mom and I both love crab cakes, so I made this easy but luxurious-tasting linguini with crab cakes.

(Here’s my recipe for Crab Cake Linguini.)

cheesy anchovy toast © Bianca Garcia

cheesy anchovy toast © Bianca Garcia

Last but not least, since my mom was the one who influenced my love for anchovies and all things cheesy (melted cheese, snacking cheese, cheesecake, cacio e pepe - if it has cheese, give it to me) I recently made this anchovy toast. Crunchy bread, garlicky cheese spread, and salty anchovies, finished with a shower of chopped chives and red pepper flakes. The flavors are unapologetically strong, not for the fainthearted, and perfect in every way.

(Here’s my recipe for Cheesy Anchovy Toast.)

Bianca and Mom in the 80s © Bianca Garcia

Bianca and Mom in the 80s © Bianca Garcia

Thank you, Mommy, for introducing me to the foods that have become my favorites  <3

I hope I was able to inspire some of you to make something delicious and enjoy it with your mom and loved ones!

My Filipina Mama

By Leila Amerling


Mother’s Day. To my mom, and I’m sure to all moms, Mother’s Day should not be celebrated just ONE day a year. With an Asian mom, especially a Filipino mom, you’re bound to be reminded, or even guilted into thinking that you should show appreciation to your mother everyday! You readers out there who have an Asian mom know exactly what I’m talking about.

First there’s guilt...

An Asian mom will tell you that “nobody” (aka YOU) cares about her, just because you don’t call her every hour on the hour while you’re at work. She will “joke” about how YOU should be giving HER presents on YOUR birthday, because you should be celebrating the fact that she let you into the world. She will guilt you into saying that she makes the best adobo, which is actually true. No one makes adobo as well as your mom. But somehow if you want to eat out, she’ll make you feel guilty by saying that you don’t like her food. In fact, saying how delicious her food is only once in a day, means you really don’t like it very much and are just trying to be nice.

And if that isn’t enough, when having a disagreement with your Filipina mother, she will end the argument by claiming that “you are just like your father,” which somehow makes you feel terrible, as if being like your dad is a bad thing.

Then there are her awkward displays of affection...

She’s the mom who has a special way of kissing you by sniffing your cheek or your head.

She’s the mom who buys you clothes that are totally not your style but you’re guilted into wearing them anyway. But then your friends only compliment your outfits when you wear the stuff she buys you.

She’s the mom who while sitting in her room, or the TV room, will shout out your name repeatedly until you get to her, only to ask you, in the sweetest of ways, to pass her the remote control (that’s sitting right on top of the TV), by pointing at it with her lips, not her finger, and then rewarding you with another sniff kiss.

If you don’t answer your phone or get home right at curfew time, she will worry about you, but not in the way that other non-Filipina moms do, like maybe thinking you got into a car accident. She will worry that you’ve been kidnapped by a bunch of hooligans and sold as a sex slave to one of the drug cartels of Manila.

And finally there’s the brutal honest truth (many times told at inconvenient places) that you just don’t want to hear but really need to...

She will tell you if you’re getting fat, or if you’re too thin (although this will RARELY ever happen). She’ll tell you if your breath smells, or that you need to go see your dermatologist because you’re getting pimples again. She’ll tell you that your clothes aren’t “nice” or “sexy” enough when you’re going out on a date. But when you’re finally in a serious relationship, she’ll say that you’re too young to be in that kind of a relationship. And then when you’re getting older and are still single, she’ll try to set you up with the one son of Tita-so-and-so because he’s the only guy in her circle of friends that’s around the same age as you. She’ll start reminding you of your age and that you’ll need to get married soon because you’re getting too old and may not be able to have children. She’s the one woman on this planet (well besides your lola - grandma) that you can’t argue with and just need to accept the “fact” that she’s “always right.”

No matter what, we can’t imagine having another type of mother...

No matter how she shows it, she loves you unconditionally. Even if half of the things you do are done “over my dead body.” Without her, you literally would never have existed. You are at least half of her and hope that you’ve inherited all of the good Asian genes that she bestows (like looking like you’re 40 when you’re 60, or having a head full of luxurious black hair and golden, olive-toned skin that never burns when under the sun). You hope that someday, when you become a mom too, you will raise your child(ren) as well as your mom raised you. After all, you didn’t turn out so bad, right?

Nanay, Inay, Ina, Mama, Nanang, Irmat, Ma, I love you too!