The two people my father trusted most with his life were his driver Joe and his cook Fermin. Because he travelled the Manila-Naga South Road every week, I understood why.
“Nag kakan ka na Joe?” always came out of my father’s mouth each time he’d get in the car.
With Fermin it does not take much to figure out that my father’s well-being depended on the food that Fermin prepared for him every day.
In the US, I have no driver and no cook.
Here I do most of the driving.
My wife no longer drives, although I wish she would take to the wheel again. You see, each time she is with me in the car she turns into “GPS” mode and gives me instructions on how to drive instead of directions on where to turn.
Additionally, this “GPS” mode also directs me to keep my eyes on the road whenever I see attractive women pass by.
Owning a car in America is not a luxury but a necessity. A survey in the US shows that nearly all adult men drive and 64 percent of them drive every day. On the average, people here drive 29 miles a day.
The survey further states that although more men drive more hours than women, women spend more time on driving trips. I find this scenario to be true. I do the driving at home but my wife spends more time on driving trips. I am not familiar with the setting in the Philippines except the part where women spend more time in driving trips.
When it comes to cooking, I do most of the cooking at home especially now that I am retired while my wife is still working. Like many disciplines, I taught myself how to cook the easy way, the shortcut way, and that is by apprenticeship--by observing how my wife and other people cooked, by asking friends and relatives how they cooked, and by recalling how my mother cooked.
My mother has always been my role model when it came to cooking. I copied everything I know from my mother, including her quaint habits of cooking. For example, she would always throw in a pinch of sugar for all salt-based food and a pinch of salt when making sweets. When it came to my father’s cooking, all I can recall was watching him throw a pinch of salt over his left shoulder. These are things I do unconsciously to this day. Some habits stay with you forever.
Cooking or meal preparation has been part of my life’s daily routine. Surveys show that meal preparation time varies across different groups. Women spend more hours preparing food than men. Seniors above 65 devote more time than those younger. The unemployed dedicate more hours than the employed. On the average, people spend about 40 minutes a day for food preparation and cleanup.
These surveys were done in the US. The situation may be different in the Philippines where everywhere you turn, someone is bound to be cooking.
Thank God I still enjoy cooking and driving on lengthy trips, despite advancing age.
On cooking, so far no one has complained about my culinary skills. On the contrary, people who have tasted my Gulay na Natong, Arroz Valenciana and Leche Flan constantly ask for my secret recipes.
The busy Christmas season is here once again. We will be celebrating the birth of our Saviour. There will be more driving, more cooking, and more eating this time.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31
Which brings me back to Joe and Fermin. My father was right in taking extra care of them after all.