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Spicy vegan soyrizo — made Filipino corned beef-style, and served with egg whites and brown rice as a healthier substitute to a traditional Cornsilog breakfast.

It’s a simple yet satisfying dish. Corned beef carries a significant cultural relevance on a multinational level. The memories, or possibly stereotypical images evoked are as diverse as the people associated with it. As a Filipino, I wonder how this sodium-packed can of processed foodstuff can bring so much comfort to those of us far from home.

Filipino corned beef came into popularity during the same time Spam, evaporated milk, hot dogs, and ketchup did during American occupation of the Philippines. Canned goods were a luxury, though now it’s become quite clear how harmful these foods are with growing rates of diet-related diseases among various Filipino populations.

I’m stuck in both worlds with sometimes clashing, sometimes complimentary identities. It seems that the food I’m cooking or eating becomes a doorway into reflection of my past, present, and future selves. I can’t change the fact that smelling it simmering away on the stove is heavy with nostalgia. What I do have power over is deciding to sit at the table where it’s served.


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