A conversation with my Best Friend, Saima

By Leila Amerling

Saima and I, THEN and NOW...   (our Junior year of highschool (1998) and Saima as my maid of honor (2016). I actually couldn't find one normal picture of us in any of my wedding photos.)

Saima and I, THEN and NOW...

(our Junior year of highschool (1998) and Saima as my maid of honor (2016). I actually couldn't find one normal picture of us in any of my wedding photos.)

Saima Kazi is a half-Bangladeshi, half-Indian Muslim living a foodie life in Boston. Saima has a story to tell and it starts (where most of our stories begin) where she grew up: the Philippines. Saima was born in Bangkok, Thailand, moved to the Philippines later in elementary school, and lived the rest of her formidable years there. She then moved to Boston for college and has been here ever since.

Saima and I have been friends, best friends, since the 6th grade (although she will claim it was the 4th). Like any close friend, she has been a part of many of my life transitions, she was even my maid of honor. She is the reason why I actually live in Boston. Well technically, she was the person who convinced me to move to Boston from the Philippines for college. The reason why I’m still here, well, I ask myself that every winter. It could have something to do with Saima’s cooking. If you ever have her cooking, you’d probably stay in Boston too.

Saima is one of the first members to join BOSFilipinos, and was a sous chef for our Filipino Food Pop-Up last September. When we host our monthly Filipino food potlucks, Saima's contributions are the first to be cleaned out. Anyone who has tasted her food will agree that she's an incredible cook. And anyone who meets her will also agree that she completely lives and understands the Filipino way of life.

Leila: This might be a loaded question but, where are you from originally?
Saima: I inherited the ethnicity of being from Bangladesh, but moved to the Philippines from Thailand where I was born. I grew up in the Philippines which is where my most coherent years were spent (i.e. teens), and it’s where I feel the most connected, like the culture and the food. Mainly because I was surrounded by Filipinos.

Leila: What do you do?
Saima: I help manage a boutique in the fashion retail industry.

Leila: What’s the best part of your job?
Saima: Meeting different people, being able to style them, and being able to teach people how to style them, leaving everyone happy once I’ve interacted with them! Well, at least most of the time...

Leila: What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Saima: Cook new things, spend time with my Besties, dance with my handsome Haitian boyfriend, and catch-up on Netflix. I’ve been watching Downton Abbey lately.

Leila: What is your favorite thing to cook?
Saima: Oh boy! Another loaded question. Adobo, Pinakbet, Arroz Caldo, Munggo, Thai Meatball Curry, Haitian Chicken Stew, Biryani, anything with a fried egg on it. I could keep going but those are in rotation in my kitchen.

Leila: Is that influenced by your background?
Saima: Oh yes! Thai I picked up from spending my early years there. At home, we cooked Indian, and most of my latter years was spent in Filipino restaurants and homes. But it’s not just the food, it’s the people that I’ve come across that have influenced my cooking (you and your mom are a BIG part of it). I was born into a conservative Indian family forced to follow rules but the Philippines brought me sunshine, tanduay rum, dried mangoes and introduced me to the other aspects of non-conservative ways of life, like binge eating, drinking, dancing and singing karaoke. I mean who doesn’t want a piece of the Philippines?!

Leila: How did you learn to cook?
Saima: Well, I never had to cook until I moved to the the States. I am a foodie so when I left the Philippines I craved it a lot. I thought about the flavors that I missed and enjoyed the most, so I took my favorite flavors, and learned to cook by trial and error.

Leila: When do you plan on going back to the Philippines?
Saima: When they eradicate all lizards. Hate them. Or when there’s a wedding to attend. That’s when all of the best Pinoy foods come out to play (except lechon, I’ll never know the true deliciousness thanks to my religion).

So there you have it folks. A little peek into the life of my friend, Saima. I’ll bet you may think that you have a boring life, but really, like Saima, you have a story to tell too!

 

We want to hear your story too! Or if you know of anyone that has a story to tell, or that you want to interview please let us know! Send us an email at info@bosfilipinos.com or hit us up on social media and we'll get back to you ASAP.

BOSFilipinos and Milagros Project Pop-Up Dinner Recap

by Bianca Garcia

My heart was beating fast, my hands were sweating, and I smelled like adobo. I glanced around the cozy space at Saus and saw my team whirring around: Trish was going over the floor plan and putting last minute touches on the dining tables, Leila was prepping garnishes behind the counter, Saima was heading down towards the kitchen with a determined look on her face, and Chef Roland was laser-focused on the food, carrying big pots filled with deliciousness. I grinned wide and welcomed the first guest. We were ready to rock and roll.

Clockwise from top left: Leila, Roland, Bianca, and Trish  © Bianca Garcia

Clockwise from top left: Leila, Roland, Bianca, and Trish

© Bianca Garcia

The next few hours went by in a blur. We were fortunate to have sold out both seatings for the evening, and there was a general buzz of excitement in the packed restaurant that sustained throughout the night. Once the food started coming out, we heard plenty of “oohs,” “ahhs,”  and “mmms.” The diners were happy and satisfied, and so were we. The Filipino Food Pop-Up Event by BOSFilipinos and The Milagros Project was a success! Below are a few pictures from the evening:

scallop kinilaw   © Matt Nagy

scallop kinilaw 

© Matt Nagy

ilocos empanada  © Matt Nagy

ilocos empanada

© Matt Nagy

chicken inasal steeam bun  © Matt Nagy

chicken inasal steeam bun

© Matt Nagy

pork ribs adobo  © Matt Nagy

pork ribs adobo

© Matt Nagy

leche flan  © Cathy Buena

leche flan

© Cathy Buena

Chef Roland talking to diners  © Bianca Garcia

Chef Roland talking to diners

© Bianca Garcia

happy diners  © Bianca Garcia

happy diners

© Bianca Garcia

the night's menu ( hapunan  means dinner in Filipino)   © Matt Nagy

the night's menu (hapunan means dinner in Filipino) 

© Matt Nagy

dried mangoes and bananas  © Bianca Garcia

dried mangoes and bananas

© Bianca Garcia

We are all grateful for this incredible experience. The months of preparations and meetings (filled with food, no complaints) were worth it, and we are proud of our very first eat-up. Extra special thanks to: Chef Roland of The Milagros Project for sharing his talent and letting Boston have a little taste of the Philippines via his tasting menu; Chin, Lucas, Tanya, Aimee, Renee, and the rest of the team at Saus for their help and participation; our friend Saima for rocking out with us that night; my hubby Matt for designing our menu and branding; and of course to our attendees, family, and friends for the support and encouragement.  

MARAMING SALAMAT PO! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

the team post-event  © Bianca Garcia

the team post-event

© Bianca Garcia