As autumn continue to ramp up to cooler days, more colorful trees and earlier nightfall, I’m also more likely to want the comfort foods of my childhood. Being Filipino, or “Pinoy,” I didn’t grow up with grilled cheese or mac and cheese like my American-born peers. Instead, I had my mother’s island cooking, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. A mix of different cultures (Chinese, Spanish, even Indian), Filipino cuisine has a wide range of flavors, from savory to sour.
That said, my favorite dish was (and is!) lumpia, the Pinoy version of egg rolls: A simple mix of ground protein (see note), celery, carrots and onions wrapped in gossamer-thin rice paper and deep-fried to a golden brown. It’s almost childlike in its simplicity, and yet that is precisely why it is so comforting. The delicate crunch is a time warp to third grade, when I brought lumpia to share with the class on my birthday, while the other kids brought cupcakes. A simple meal at home always paired the egg rolls with a heaping portion of rice and Thai chili-sauce, sometimes banana ketchup, both found in Asian specialty stores.
Note: Though pork is traditional, my family has found that turkey is not only a lighter alternative, but also stays moist and crispy longer.