11 years ago, my best friend Megan and I went to visit her family in Arkansas for the holidays. It was my first time flying without parental supervision and I was terrified, but Megs helped me through it. We had an absolute blast driving and crashing (oops) ATV's, chopping down our own Christmas tree, building snowmen, eating Quiznos and Taco Bell everyday, and getting new piercings (we got two each on this trip... sorry mom and dad), and on the way home we slept for the entire flight with Dashboard Confessional on replay.
The memory that stands out the most is the Filipino food her grandmother, mother, and aunties made. Aunty Erma made the BEST lumpia. She prepped enormous bowls of the pork and finely diced veggie mixture and put us kids to work wrapping. The lumpia were fried till golden brown and served with a vinegar garlic dipping sauce. Megan's mom made us pancit palabok and it completely blew my mind. In Hawai‘i we have a large Filipino community so pancit is a dish that I was very familiar with, but this was the first time I tried the palabok version. The dish is comprised of a tangy and smooth "gravy" over rice noodles topped with hard boiled eggs, chicharones, fried garlic, and a squeeze of lemon... ugggh it's so perfect!
Since that trip I've always dreamed of Aunty Emmie's pancit and have yet to try one that compares. This past week, Megan wrote down her mom's recipe and we tried to make it... let's say it was good, but didn't come close her mom's! We'll have to keep practicing.