Dear Charlie and Jack,

I want to tell you about food:  your food, our food; food you lick off your fingers and plate while your eyes flutter and your nostrils flare; food you spit out with a shriek; food you only see and gorge on once a year; food you eat everyday…  This is going to be a long letter on food (AND all the other stuff that goes with food and eating) so, to help you navigate your way, I will divide this in three:   Our Daily Food; the Party Food Villanueva Family Style; and Party Food Lynes Family Style.

Our Daily Food

This is an account of our oh so mundane daily food habits.

Early in the morning, around 6:30, like an infallible eager rooster that can’t be ignored, Jack would crow the beginning of our day.  A few minutes later, Charlie would scuttle around the kitchen, open the fridge door, and go through the silverware with early morning energy.  He used to join us in bed and ask to be tickled but now he’s discovered that he can pour his own cereal and almond milk, even make his own breakfast muffin pizza, so he no longer lollygags in bed with the rest of us.  Now he’s his own chef, except on Saturday when he becomes the assistant chef to Papa for the Saturday Special Pancake Breakfast.


By the time we all straggle out of our room, Charlie would be on his second bowl of cereal and Jack would be so ready to have his breakfast that he would squeeze himself between his chair and table and not even call out “Stuck!.”  We would serve Jack his cookie sheet “plate” filled with cheese, cheerios, scrambled eggs, toast, anything that we could find.  He eats just about anything when he’s in the mood to eat.  He used to eat with his hands but now he’s gotten the hang of spoon and fork and regular cups.  Now he scowls at us when forget to give him his tools, and he shrieks his indignation when we try to spoonfeed him.


Your Papa would make me cappuccino.  I think he may have been a barista in his past life.  Nothing raises his ire more than the incompetent barista who cannot make a decent foam.  Although I’m okay with big bubbles on my cappuccino milk, the fine foam does actually make my three seconds of coffee drinking pleasure even more pleasurable.

We used to eat nothing but oats and mango chunks for breakfast.  I fell off that oats wagon first, a long time ago, when I gave in to my Filipino taste buds which favor salty breakfast like fried rice or scrambled eggs with catsup and soy sauce.  Charlie stayed on that wagon for almost three years until he discovered other people’s cereals.  When the cheerios made it in our kitchen, it became a staple.  Only your Papa and Jack are in that oats wagon and as a result, your Papa has an enviable cholesterol count and Jack is very regular.

Until about three months ago, we always had soy milk because Charlie is lactose intolerant.  Three months ago your Papa discovered the empowering milk making machine and since then we have been making our own almond milk (with a bit of vanilla and rice to make the milk thicker.)  We have said goodbye to soymilk.


For mid day snacks, there is always fruit.  You also love “Asian” snacks.  Although we don’t go often, when we do go to the nearby East Pacific Mall we would always get tapioca pearl drinks (avocado and taro are our favorites), pocky sticks, panda bear choco filled crackers, shrimp chips, rice crackers… and we would go home happy.


Lunch is almost always pasta for Charlie and a smorgasbord for Jack:  avocado, cheese, fruit, steamed vegetables.  There’s chicken nuggets, as well, but always with catsup otherwise neither one of you would eat it.  Probably the least attended meal, lunch has become whatever is there.  Jack eats his lunch before Charlie comes home from school or camp around 1:00.    I don’t usually eat lunch and when I do I eat leftovers.  And your Papa either goes out on lunch dates for work or eats celery sticks with peanut butter.

Dinner tends to be a bit more substantial.  Sometimes I would try to be a little more creative:  poached salmon, turkey tacos, stir fried vegetables, baked tofu.   Every once in a while I would make Sinigang or chicken adobo.  Sometimes your papa would make dinner when he gets home.  Sometimes I would try to make something Filipino- sinigang or chicken adobo.   You seem to like them.

I wonder how we would all be eating a few years from now when you both are older and develop your own food preferences.  Until then, here it is, a summary of our daily food.

Up next:  Party Food, Villanueva style