Listen to director Marissa Aroy (Delano Manongs) discuss her memories of her father’s food with her mother, Marcelina Aroy, in this CAAM and StoryCorps special collaboration recording.
Marissa Aroy: My name is Marissa Aroy. I am 41 years old
Marcelina Aroy: My name is Marcelina Aroy. I just turned 68 years old
Marissa: I am trying to remember like some of the stuff Papa used to make.
Marissa: Oh, we were talking about how… when I get straight A’s. And his reward would be to have an American meal and that was a big deal.
Marcelina: Well, remember he was still one that knows how to cook American food, American diets, and all that menus. He’s the one that introduces you to. Oh, and I get jealous because I’ve never made mashed potatoes. Because your dad was always the cook, right? And so and then when he taught you how to make mashed potatoes… how old were you? You were at least 8 or 7 or something like that? He was making you do it this way, and you get so interested in making mashed potatoes. And I said “Gee, Marissa would know how to make mashed potatoes ahead of me.” And so from then, even now I haven’t done any, except when I help you here in Oakland, when you used to live here, make mashed potatoes.
Marissa: I’ll make you do the mashed potatoes. But, I remember that Papa would… because I actually wanted for my reward for getting straight A’s, I wanted a Swansons, TV dinner. Because I thought “Wow, that is so American.” And I remember he didn’t want to buy me that, and instead he actually made the fried chicken and made the mashed potatoes and then I think he cheated with the vegetables, he actually bought the frozen vegetables.
Marcelina: And then cooked it.
Marissa: But I thought that was the best thing, to have an American meal.
Marcelina: Well, what I remember from your father too is when he taught you how to do all those some… stuffing? With those large shrimps when you used to help him stuff those, because I know you loved those.
Marissa: Oh, the Jumbo shrimp. Stuff Jumbo shrimp.
Marcelina: Yeah, taught you how to stuff the shrimps and crabs, when you make stuffed crabs and everything because he does all these specialties and everything and I said “Wow, she’s getting to be an American girl, cooking all these menus and everything.”
Something reminds of you your dad? Any food? Spaghetti.
Marissa: Spaghetti. Yeah, I guess so. He had his way of making spaghetti and I am sure no Italian makes it that way. It’s a very Asian Filipino spaghetti. But I mean… I guess that was the way Papa showed his love. He wasn’t an outwardly affectionate man. But I think that’s his way showing love to both, me and you.
Marcelina: Yeah, by cooking.
Marissa: By cooking for us and always making sure we had food. He was always very conscious of that.
Marissa: Thank you, Mom.
Marcelina: Oh, you’ re welcome.
This series of media makers discussing their food experiences is a collaboration between CAAM and StoryCorps.
Audio editing by Davin Agatep. Davin Agatep is the Media Fund Manager and the Project Manager for Memories to Light: Asian American Home Movies. He currently holds an M.F.A. in Music Production and Sound Design for Visual Media from the Academy of Art University and a B.A. in U.S. History from San Francisco State University.