Filipinos are born and bred to love food.
We are passionate about flavor, trying just about anything and waiting for the next bite that catches us off guard. But we are also grounded in tradition, the simplicity of rice and hot food excites us just as much.
So when I think of home, and what it means to be home, I think of my mom’s Kare Kare, pork cooked in brown sugar with bagoong rice. I only know how to use a potato peeler on a mango, I didn’t know that you actually used potato peelers for potatoes. I think of my family sitting around our small table in our small kitchen after a long day.
Every night, no matter how late, my family sat down and had dinner together. I now understand this ceremonial act to be a luxury of time. We could afford the time to sit and eat, to share and to laugh. So when I think of food, and home, I think of my dad’s nightly glass of wine that he poured in an orange juice glass and my brother’s fingers drumming on the table. I think of giving, and a Filipino’s duty to give and give without asking nor expecting anything in return. At Purple Patch, this is their motto.
Walking into Purple Patch is like walking into your best friends house, and hugging their mom hello. The intimacy and comfort in the room is tangible — this is emphasized by the hospitality of the hosts, and the owner herself, Patrice.
Tita Patrice is like that aunt during Thanksgiving that is just happy to see you and doesn’t berate you about your weight or love life. Patrice carries herself with a warm temperament and open eyes. She walks to each table, greeting customers and welcoming them herself. When she stopped at our table, I asked her where I could find an Asian market. My mom passed down all of her recipes to me, but I didn’t have access to the ingredients that made up these dishes. Trust me, you can’t find Chinese long beans at Giant. I was nervous asking Patrice because I know how busy restaurant owners are, and I didn’t want to bother her. But Patrice is not your average restaurant owner. She is a Filipino restaurant owner. Just like how I was raised, she knows the value of time spent with people around a warm dish of Sinigang. She sat with us, told us her story, gave me the name of her supplier and to tell them that “Tita Patrice sent you.” She even came back with a bag of ingredients from her own kitchen: Mang Thomas, banana ketchup … It was filled with what I knew to be home. My mom was there, along with my aunt, who is my second mom here on the east coast. My mama had tears in her eyes as Patrice said that she would take care of me here, and that she shouldn’t worry about me so long as I have her.
Being kind doesn’t mean that you always put yourself second. It means that you recognize the need and value of making another person better. No fancy random acts of kindness, no need for accolades and thanks. Patrice reminded me that Filipinos give and give and give. That’s what we do. Sharing plates, and with it, sharing kindness.