In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked some members of our community to share stories of their favorite food mom would prepare, or a time they embarrassed their mom or vice versa.
“Those from Hawaii know how Spam musubi is almost a state food. Since my youngest days, our mom, Florence, made picnic lunches of musubi with teriyaki chicken or hot dogs to take to the beach. She is now 85 and her “kids” now make Spam musubi for her and the grandkids. Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!”
— Lori Matsukawa
KING 5 anchor
“My mother worked in her family’s restaurant growing up, so it’s only natural that my mom is an amazing cook. Food was the one thing we always connected with, and the one thing that connected me to my roots. My mother likes her space in the kitchen and I often was too young to help. However, whenever she made lumpia, she would let me help her roll them. I wasn’t very good, and I’m still not to this day. Although sometimes she would scold me for not wrapping the lumpia tight enough or round enough, she continuously helped me improve. My mom’s cooking and our time together is what made me fall in love with food.”
— Isa Call
“A girlfriend of mine prepared Korean soup for my mom and me during a hunting and fishing trip. Since then, I prepare it for my mom because it reminds us of doing something outside of our element. My mom and I are city people and to watch us outdoors, two Filipino moms trying to keep quiet while fishing and hunting, is quite entertaining. It’s almost impossible! When we make this soup, my mom and I reminisce about all the adventures we’ve had together.”
— Maureen Francisco
Author of “It Takes Moxie” and co-executive producer of NW Productions, LLC
“I come from a large extended family and our holiday gatherings center around great food. We always celebrate oshogatsu (New Year) with a blend of many traditional Japanese dishes and American. Every aunt has her specialty. My mom always makes a snap pea sesame salad and oddly enough, clam dip!
One of my favorite dishes that my mom makes is salmon with sweet chili sauce. The sauce is her own invention, so I will have to learn how to make it when I start hosting my own parties. She also makes great toffee. We keep telling her she should go into the toffee business, it’s that good!”
— Kelsey Schmidt
Miss Washington USA 2016
“When I was little, my mom was a hairdresser at Vidal Sassoon in New York. The work, especially the hair dye, left her hands chaffed. She worked on Cyndi Lauper’s hair in the 1980s and a number of other famous people with really stylish cuts and colors. Of course, she cut my hair, too, usually in our kitchen or bathroom. Sometimes, she’d experiment and give me something hip and asymmetrical. I remember being really upset and embarrassed about this, and asked her to give me something more… boring. Looking back, who wouldn’t want their hair cut by someone who worked on the stars?!”
— Nicole Vallestero Keenan
Fair Work Center executive director
“It never occurred to me, as a child growing up, that my mom wasn’t shy. As an adult, it practically floored me when my mom told me she “was shy!” I mention this because one of the few times I was embarrassed by my mom was when she stood up to my teacher who treated me unfairly. She wrote Mr. N a letter and she told me that she was going confront him. Being a middle schooler, this was exactly what I didn’t want! In the end, I think I read the letter and I lied to my mom by telling her I delivered it. I told her that the teacher was apologetic. Thirty years later, the reality is that my mom embarrassed me when I was already embarrassed in my own skin. She stood up for me, and taught me love and strength.”
— Rep. Mia Su-Ling Gregerson
“Mom and I had just finished sipping down our morning espressos in a quaint café in Florence. Our vacation routine involved leisurely strolls after breakfast. But one morning was different. Mom was a powerhouse of frenetic energy! She flitted from market stall to market stall, loudly bargaining with every vendor. She wanted to take a picture of everything and talk to everyone. What had gotten into mom? Then I realized. Mom usually takes her espresso decaffeinated. But that morning, I had forgotten to tell the barista to serve decaf. Oops. For the rest of that trip, I always remembered: decaf for mom!”
— Joaquin Uy
Seattle Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs
“My grandmother was the one who raised me. She was my grandma, my mom, and my best friend.
Growing up, grandma would always listen on the phone when friends called. This was before cell phones and several people could listen in on a landline. If we weren’t talking about schoolwork, she would shout, “Hang up the phone!” She would really embarrass me when boys called. She would ask, “How old are you and why do you have to talk to her at night?” Then she would stay on the line and listen to our conversation. Boys usually didn’t call a second time.
Back then, I was embarrassed when my grandma did this, but she just wanted the best for me.”
— Pia Benjawan Suwannakatesakul
My mom has never been a fan of surprises. Back in August 2011, some of my mom’s closest girlfriends and I came up with a grand scheme to hold a surprise birthday party for my mom.
Our committee consisted of Vi Mar, Kay Hirai, the late Auntie June Chen, the late Tama Murotani, Arlene Oki, and Penny Fukui. We had to keep a secret from my mom and also my dad — because my dad doesn’t keep secrets from my mom. My mom had originally planned to have a lunch with June, so we decided to have the surprise birthday party that day. That worked perfectly. We were able to get over 30 of my mom’s good friends without her suspecting.
Happy Mother’s day… until the next surprise party!”
— John Liu
Associate Publisher, Northwest Asian Weekly