What’s your food story? Mama Sita wants to hear them

Team Out of Town Blog Hub (Outoftownblog.com) – What do Filipinos talk about when they are gathered around the table to eat? Food! That’s how fond we are of food stories.

Over a week ago, over a delightful lunch of Kapampangan cuisine, Peach Reyes shared with us stories of their Sunday get-togethers. She shared “On a low day, we would gather around 30 guests, and on big days, it would go up to 120.”

At the grill - liempo, tilapia, hito, and chicken
At the grill – liempo, tilapia, hito, and chicken

“That’s every Sunday of the month except the first Sunday, which is their time for the other side of their families,” clarifies Peach.

Peach Reyes is a granddaughter of culinary icon Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes. Yes, she is the Mama Sita we see on the labels of Filipino food sauces, marinades, soup mixes, syrups, etc.

Mama Sita has 11 children and 27 grandchildren

“But during these get-togethers, everyone is welcome – my nephew’s basketball teammates, my cousins’ friends, etc.,” adds Peach.

Of course, each get-together is well-thought-of and properly curated.

Much like our lunch of barbecued dishes, using Mama Sita’s Barbecue Marinade, seafood sinigang using Mama Sita’s Guava Mix and Batuan Paste, sisig paella with Mama Sita’s Sisig Sauce, seafood kare-kare with Mama Sita’s kare-kare sauce, ensaladang pako with Mama Sita’s Pinoy Ensalada (Sweet Black Pepper) Vinaigrette, and many other local dishes.

At the grill - liempo, tilapia, hito, and chicken
At the grill – liempo, tilapia, hito, and chicken

Our lunch was supposed to be a picnic on a mango farm in Mexico, Pampanga, a sampling of one of the Reyes clans’ favorite activities. But there was too much rain. So, the organizers decided to move to Angeles for lunch.

Lunch is served - grilled boneless chicken, ensaladang pako, grilled hito, tilapia, and liempo, and okoy
Lunch is served – grilled boneless chicken, ensaladang pako, grilled hito, tilapia, and liempo, and okoy

According to the Mama Sita Foundation, the organizer of the event, Mama Sita would often invite her family to harvest picnics all over the Philippines, where they would simply set down a place for them to eat meals under a tree, whilst picking fruits and knowing which ones are ready to harvest. The simplicity of the picnics made them memorable and unique to her family, shaped by the same experiences Mama Sita had growing up.

In a press release, another granddaughter of Mama Sita, Joyce Sandoval, shared “We roughed it out a lot. Sometimes, there would not be enough space at a picnic table to eat, so we would take turns sitting down. We would climb trees and learn to pick fruit and tell which ones were just the right stage of ripeness.”

But before that, we also had some fun activities and delicious snacks on the mango farm in Mexico, Pampanga.

Our welcome snacks - coconuts, corn, and saba
Our welcome snacks – coconuts, corn, and saba

We were welcomed with snacks of sweet corn, saba, and coconut juice set underneath a giant mango tree.

After that, Kapitan Elmer David, the owner of the farm, taught us how the trees are planted, maintained, and harvested.

Then, we went off to pick the mangoes off the trees.

Time to harvest
Time to harvest
Our Mango harvest
Our Mango harvest

We had a mango tree in our backyard in Cavite, where I grew up, so it was a fun activity for me. I spent summers under that mango tree, with friends, and eating our harvests with my favorite sauce, which is bagoong or salted shrimp fry.

To make the mango-picking activity more exciting, the organizers divided us into groups and asked us to guess the total weight of their harvests. We were also given questions about mangoes that our teammates had to answer while we picked mangoes.

Our group won with a total harvest of 89 kilos and our guess was 80 kilos. The other group picked more mangoes, around 120 kilos, but their guess was far wrong.

For our prizes, we brought home mangoes.

The event was organized to celebrate Mama Sita Foundation’s Mga Kuwentong Pagkain 10th year anniversary.

Mga Kuwentong Pagkain is an initiative of the Mama Sita Foundation to seek out and share little-known food stories and experiences celebrating our Filipino foodways—a vision that inspired the late Mama Sita to share her culinary journey and legacy to a wider audience.

Group photo with representatives from Mama Sita Foundation, the press, and grandchildren of Mama Sita. Peach Reyes is standing, 3rd from right
Group photo with representatives from Mama Sita Foundation, the press, and grandchildren of Mama Sita. Peach Reyes is standing, 3rd from right

The Mama Sita Foundation’s initiatives aim to perpetuate the legacy of Mama Sita, by bringing people closer to appreciating our foodways and those who keep them alive, just as Mama Sita did in her lifetime.

To share your own food story, email [email protected] For more food stories and more details about Mga Kwentong Pagkain, go to www.facebook.com/mgakwentongpagkain.

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