I've always hated the abomination that is "Filipino" Spaghetti.
But before my fellow kababayan march on me with digital pitchforks, let me contextualize that statement with a story:
Pops was recruited in the late 70s out of Subic Bay Naval Base, joined the US Navy, and got stationed in Italy. At the same time, Moms was recruited from the countryside to work overseas as part of the first wave of young Filipina domestic workers. She was placed in the home of a kind, elderly Italian couple. So Moms and Pops, originally from towns in neighboring Philippine provinces, met thousands of miles away in the land of Real Fucking Spaghetti. Pops loved to cook, moms had to cook--to Señor Luigi's liking--and both learned the ancient ways of the Italian pasta. Plus, being from the countryside, they never really had the bastardized version of spaghetti there anyway.
Growing up, we had lots of pasta, especially spaghetti, cooked to the standard of the old Italians that Moms and Pops always recalled fond memories of at the dinner table. No sugar, no American cheese, no processed banana ketchup, no hot dogs (thanks, US occupation). Lots of basil, oregano, thyme & parsley. A slow-cooked meat sauce that didn't disrespect the umami and acidity of the tomato. And garlic. Hella garlic. Their particular twist: dashes of patis and chopped straw mushrooms. I always looked forward to spaghetti night.
This enthusiasm for spaghetti always died at the Filipino potluck party. All the auntie's and uncle's dishes, laid out in a row buffet-style, and me, standing in line with my paper plate and plastic cutlery debating whether or not to try the red slop with the hotdogs that someone called spaghetti. Not wanting to disrespect, and also because of young blind faith, I always gave it a try. And every time, yuck. I recall once asking Pops "why is this spaghetti so gross?" "Because it's Filipino spaghetti," he said, "not the real kind."
Fast forward to last week, at Jollibee. My kids are eating the "spaghetti," and loving it. I ask my older son, Ajani, which spaghetti he likes better: the Jollibee kind or the kind that I cook? They're about the same, he said. And I felt some type of way about that, which prompted the twitter rant about Filipino Spaghetti (excerpts above) the next day. To my surprise, some agreed with me. Not to my surprise, many more others defended it. But a few hit me with "you're right, it's mostly bad. But there's good Filipino Spaghetti out there, you just haven't tried it yet."
Maybe those people were right. But I wasn't about to force myself to keep eating the monstrosity until I find one that I liked. Suddenly, I was inspired to try to create a "Filipino Spaghetti" myself, to my liking. I looked up a handful of "Filipino Spaghetti" recipes online, and wanted to see if there was a happy medium between that and the Italian Filipino Spaghetti that I grew up on. So I cooked it. And I wasn't mad at it. And the kids said it was the best spaghetti I've ever cooked. Here it is:
Italian Filipino Spaghetti
- 16 oz Capellini
- 2 Cipollini Onions
- 10 Garlic Cloves
- 1 lb Ground pork
- 10 oz (5 pc) Fresh Mild Italian Sausage
- 16 oz Crushed Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- 16 oz Jufran Banana Sauce
- Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1 can Straw Mushrooms thoroughly washed and pre-cooked because of the Formaldehyde that it's usually soaked in
- 1 t dried Basil
- 1 t dried Oregano
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Crushed Red Pepper to taste (optional)