With children seemingly more familiar with foreign dishes like fried chicken, burger, pizza and spaghetti nowadays, it is up to parents to teach their children about the nutritious dishes that also reflect their Filipino roots.
The Mama Sita Foundation had this in mind when they collaborated with Adarna House in publishing “What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food.” The project also marks the celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes, the celebrated Filipino cook. As such, the Mama Sita Centennial Edition features highlights the life of Teresita Reyes, and her contribution to Philippine food history.
In the introduction, Clara Reyes, daughter of Mama Sita write, “This edition celebrates Mama Sita’s love for children, her family, and Philippine food culture as her story, recipes and food tips are featured for kids and their parents to enjoy….”
Teresita was born on May 11, 1917 in Manila to a family known for good cooking. Her mother established the first and perhaps one of the most famous Filipino restaurants that still stands today. Having grown up in a family that loves to cook and eat, Sita learned the rudiments of marketing and cooking as a young girl. She raised her 11 children through various food ventures—reviving her mother’s old canteen, peddling turon and kakanin in schools, selling fruits in her mini-store-on wheels— experiences that enriched her culinary journey.
In her travels, she realized how difficult it was to prepare Filipino food away from home, without the ingredients one has become used to like sampaloc and bayabas for sinigang. Since then she had made it her mission to make Filipino food more accessible anywhere in the world. That was how Mama Sita’s products came into being and her vision became reality.
Written by culinary historian Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, “What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food” is an informative food guide not just for kids, but for adults, too, and anyone who wants to know the littlest details with greatest importance on Philippine food and culture.
Sta. Maria—herself a celebrated author of various food books including the award-winning The Governor-General’s Kitchen: Philippine Culinary Vignettes and Period Recipes and the Foods of Rizal—has been collecting historical materials regarding Philippine cuisine since the 1970s.
In 2013, a commemorative stamp was launched by the Philippine Postal Corporation in honor of Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes. Maria Serena Diokno, former chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines remarked, “Philippine food history is not complete without taking into account the role of Teresita Reyes in popularizing Philippine cuisine….”