In the past, it was unthinkable for mothers to serve canned goods or takeout on a daily basis. Children were always fed home cooked meals. Takeout and canned goods were luxuries, which moms allowed their kids to enjoy during "emergencies" like typhoons or when someone was sick.
Today, hardly anyone cooks. The only women in the wet markets are the old ladies like my mother, who insists her family has to eat fresh food while she is alive. In our neighborhood, we are the only household that cooks on a daily basis.
My mother would always point out that none of us, her grandchildren, are interested in learning how to cook her heirloom recipes, like chicken pastel and callos.
"If I die tomorrow, this family would never taste my dishes again," she would often say.
A study showed that in the Philippines, where home cooking remains an important component of family life, almost 80 percent of young people aged between 23 and 27 admitted they cannot cook. Some 1,000 respondents where included in the survey,.
The top two reasons mentioned by respondents on why they did not cook were lack of confidence and inadequate knowledge about recipes.
When I was in grade school, my friends and I brought lunch to school. Our lunch boxes would contain rice and whatever was the viand at home. Selections would include pochero, sinigang, nilaga, adobo and other home cooked dishes. Our moms would include a banana for dessert. They would seldom send us off to school with fried food as baon. That would be for days when they are very busy. If food was fried, it would be torta, chicken or pork. We didn’t have hotdogs or luncheon meat then. On rare days, our moms would let us have corned beef but that would be about one day in every school year.
My classmates are now moms and many of them don’t cook. Their families live on takeout food. I have a friend whose kids order takeout every day, except for breakfast during which they have cereal. But they call restaurants for every meal and the kids aged eight to 13 can do it themselves.
One of my nieces didn’t even recognize pork afritada when we were served the dish at a relative’s house. She wouldn’t eat it. She also refused to eat pancit Molo.
Neuroscientist Dr. Stuart Firestein, PhD, from New York’s Columbia University has been carrying out research on the links between happy memories and home-cooked meals.
“Flavors she cooks up in her kitchen reach the parts of the brain, heart and soul that other things just can’t reach,” he reveals..
“What continues to fascinate me is how the brain instinctively knows that certain flavors and foods have the power to mean more to us than just sustenance. This is called sensory recall and is a phenomenon which demonstrates how the brain is hard-wired to respond in certain ways to different tastes and smells. Even over time and distance, when we taste mom’s cooking, it transports us back to a special place and a unique memory,” adds Firestein.
Unilever's new campaign, Sarap ng #LutongNanay, hopes to enjoin people to cook at home.
“Home cooking is in decline but Knorr is fighting back here in the Philippines,” says Oliver Sicam, Unilever’s marketing director for foods.
The launch of Knorr’s “Sarap ng #LutongNanay” movement was held at Blue Leaf Pavillion, McKinley Hill, Fort Bonifacio. Brand ambassador Carmina Villarroel, joined other mom influencers Pia Guanio, Dimples Romana, Delamar Arias and Danica Sotto-Pingris in talking about their common passion for cooking. The celebrity moms also shared kitchen tips and tricks. Each one did a cooking demo.
The moms cooked Crispy Tofu Sisig, Sinigang sa Pakwan (a big hit among the guests) and Tinolang Manok sa Gata.
Guanio first started cooking only two years ago when she was pregnant with daughter Scarlet.
"I was very concerned with what I was putting in my body and what I was putting into her, so I picked up my first cookbook and I got over my fears."
Sotto-Pingris credits her mom, actress Dina Bonnevie, for her love for cooking.
The celebrity moms say cooking, while challenging, isn't rocket science.
"If you really want to do something for your family, you have to find the time," says Villaroel.
For recipes, visit www.knorr.com.ph.