E, A, T, Drink, and Be Merry

A couple of weekends ago I jogged up to the Danawell connecter from Zumba class, panting, sweaty, and hungry. As I walked down the hall toward the kitchen, I was welcomed with the savory aroma of food being fried, and a roomful of friends cooking. That day, we were making Filipino food with the E, A, T club.

E, A, T is an acronym that stands for Eat, Appreciate, Taste. The club was founded by two of my friends last year and has grown a lot since then. Most E, A, T events are led by one student who shares a dish from their culture. Participants learn about the history behind the dish, and why it’s important to that person. Everyone gathers together to learn how to make the dish and then eats! E, A, T events are fantastic because, as a chartered club, no one has to pay a cent to learn about and taste food from around the world.

When I rushed into the Danawell kitchen that Saturday morning, my friend Adam, an E, A, T board member and leader for this event, was setting up the kitchen. The first group to participate in the event had already come through, so the kitchen was a delightful mess. As I walked in, I saw eggroll wrappers, sliced plantain, and a bowl full of what looked like dumpling filling. Several people watched over pans at the stove, where a pot of chicken adobo was cooking away. A rice cooker beeped in the corner.

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It’s hard to be upset about anything when there’s good food and friends.

What were we going to do with all of these delectable ingredients? Just then, Adam stepped up to the head of the table. As we obediently sat down, he told us that as a Filipino-American, he grew up watching and helping his family make and eat the food we were going to prepare, and how important it was to him to share his food and culture with us.

First off, we learned how to make lumpia, a savory snack made by enveloping a mixture of meat, vegetables, and herbs in a thin pastry wrapper, like an eggroll. Adam’s family recipe also included adding a few raisins for a touch of sweetness before sealing the roll up and frying it.

Turon is another snack we learned to make, made with the same pastry wrappers as lumpia, but sweet rather than savory. We filled the turon with banana slices dredged in brown sugar and thin slices of jackfruit. I had never had jackfruit before this event, so I tried a slice plain. The yellow fruit had the satisfyingly crisp texture of a bell pepper, but with a mild, sweet flavor.

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Turon was my favorite dish to make.

As we passed on our filled rolls to the people at the stove to fry, Adam told us about the chicken adobo he had made, a chicken stew with a vinegary sauce made with bay leaves and lots of peppercorns. We ate the chicken adobo over rice, and … wow. I still think about that dish because it was perfect: The chicken was perfectly browned on the outside and the sauce had the perfect amount of tang.

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Chicken adobo: I still have dreams about this dish.

By then, the first lumpia and turon were ready to eat. I quickly snagged a few, nearly burning my fingers on the hot rolls in the process. But after a few minutes of tantalizing wait time, I tried a bit of lumpia. Hot, crispy pastry crunched around my teeth as I bit in and savored the pork filling. Then, I tried the turon. Melted brown sugar leaked out as I took a bite and experienced the wonderful symbiosis of flavors and textures: crunchy outside, and inside, the sweet and creamy banana and the aromatic jackfruit.

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The scrumptious perfection that is a freshly-made turon.

Over the course of the next hour, I continued this process, making more food, eating it, and talking to friends, laughing and learning together. I left the kitchen absolutely stuffed and content, wondering what the next E, A, T event would hold in store.

Image credits: Chanoot Sirisoponsilp ’19

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