By Elea Almazora

I grew up in a culture where everything – I’m not kidding, I do mean EVERYTHING – is pretty much celebrated with food. We have fantastically wonderful spreads during the Christmas and New Year seasons, treat each other to a special lunch or dinner on birthdays, even bring little snacks over to work because Gina in accounting is going to have a baby and we all just found out. Food just makes everything so much better for us, because more than just nourishment, food symbolizes for us a bond that is very hard to break.

My family, especially, takes this tradition of food very seriously. As I am typing this now, I am thinking about tomorrow and how we will be throwing a party to send off one of my cousins from the mother’s side (he’ll be working as an architect in the Middle East). I’m hoping that my Auntie Jing is going to make her special fruit salad – any special occasion our family celebrates, I believe, is never truly complete without her fruit salad. I remember that as a child, I often asked her why I couldn’t have her fruit salad – made of assorted fruits, sweet corn kernels, a whole lot of cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk and some sharp cheese – every day. She would give me different answers, but I now know the truth: the fruit salad wouldn’t have been special otherwise. Still, I compare my Auntie Jing’s fruit salad with everybody else’s and find that hers is the best.

Apart from my Auntie Jing’s fruit salad, I’m also expecting my mother to prepare a little something herself. My mother (and I may be biased here, but I hardly think so) has this amazing talent for creating simple but marvelous snacks that are quite difficult to resist. My personal favorite would have to be her silk tofu dessert, which is essentially chilled silk tofu cut into medallions and slathered in home-made caramel (brown sugar melted with water and thickened in a pan). It’s seriously yummy; people may feel that it shouldn’t be because it’s tofu, but the combination of the textures and flavors are amazing enough to make the snack seem like an expensively delicious dessert. We’re looking into adding fruits or other flavorings to the recipe, but for now, this current incarnation is more than good enough for us.

Of course, the repertoire of delicious snacks we serve for “day parties” are not limited to the sweets. For example, a particular family favorite is this open-faced sandwich (some think of them as makeshift pizza, whereas I call it what it is) that is topped with three kinds of cheeses – but mostly cheddar – and medallions of liver sausage. And before you say anything, no, the liver sausage is far from disgusting. It adds this meaty twist to the cheese that just blows the mind. Then there’s the mini cheese omelettes the my brother cooks when he goes into a cooking binge – I have no idea what he does with them, though he claims it’s just a little bit of cayenne pepper, but those taste amazing as well and I plan to pester him to make some for tomorrow.

I myself am ashamed to say that I’m severely lacking in culinary talent; but that doesn’t mean that I have no appreciation for the amount of work and love that goes into creating even the simplest nibble-sized foodstuff. For example, as a child I thoroughly enjoyed helping my Aunt Lucienne decorate the Christmas cookies she would take to Church; I remember happily placing the colorful M&Ms in the green batter that had been shaped into Christmas trees by the cookie cutter. I also have fond memories of frosting fluffy lemon cupcakes with butter cream before sprinkling them liberally with crushed assorted nuts. I think what I like best about having food with the family on special occasions (even if we just decided to make the occasion special) is the fact that I am expected to help with the preparations.

Today, I will have to remember to check on the juice packets in the freezer so that we’ll be sure to have ice candy tomorrow; if there aren’t any, I’ll have to re-stock. I also may have to swing by the groceries to buy apples and Camembert cheese – one of the few special snacks I can make on my own would be wedges of apple served with slices of Camembert on little toothpicks. I’m especially proud of that one, because it tastes so good while being healthy at the same time. And I can’t forget the oranges either! They have to be peeled, and the wedges left in the pitcher of water and mint sprigs overnight, so the refreshing cold drinks will be just perfect for tomorrow.

Thinking about it, it is quite sad that my cousin has to move to another country, quite sad that he is leaving us. But there are great big opportunities for him out there, and we will send him off happily the way we always welcome the new tomorrow – with the taste of something wonderful.

Elea Almazora, contributor to

Elea Almazora currently works as a contributor to many information-based websites, writing about many subjects ranging from culture to sciences.

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