Gray Matter


Filipino Lumpia Is an American Favorite

RT Cunningham | August 22, 2020 (UTC) | Food and Drink

lumpiaAccording to the Wikipedia page on lumpia, lumpia is the Filipino word for “spring roll”. Although it originated in China, and it’s served in Indonesia and the Netherlands as well as the Philippines, Filipinos have made it uniquely their own. If you read that page, you’ll see variations you may never experience.

An all-time favorite for Americans, especially the military people who’ve frequently been around Filipino gatherings, is Lumpiang Shanghai or Shanghai Lumpia, whichever way you prefer.

Shanghai Lumpia

Despite the name, it has nothing to do with the Chinese city. Although the description for Lumpiang Shanghai specifies pork, it can be made with beef as well. I only know that because it’s what my wife, Josie, uses. She rarely uses pork and I only trust her cooking when using pork.

When Josie makes her lumpia for any kind of gathering, it’s almost always the first dish to completely disappear. I worked at a military recruiting station in downtown Phoenix in the 1990s. Josie brought a tray in one day and it was half empty before she made it to my office. I asked her to never do that again.

Gulay Lumpia

Lumpiang Gulay, according to Wikipedia, is a “vegetable spring roll” filled with vegetables and a small amount of pork or shrimp. Josie makes it without any meat at all. Many of our friends and relatives like her version better than anyone else’s. Vegans can eat it without worrying about animal contamination.

The father of one of my daughters-in-law doesn’t eat much meat. In fact, the only meat I’ve ever seen him eat is bacon. He loves her veggie lumpia.

Lumpia Wrappers

Josie can find every ingredient to go inside the wrappers. The problem is she can’t always find the wrappers. They sell out quickly. I’ve only seen them at the local commissary a couple of times, and we’ve gone there dozens of times since Josie and I arrived in Hawaii in February 2018.

We found out about the market called Seafood City, located in Waipahu, a couple of months after arriving. It usually has wrappers, but not always. Waipahu is home to a lot of Filipinos. According to the 2000 census, about 55 percent.

One of the Reasons I’m Fat

I eat Filipino food more often than I should. I can quickly finish off a plateful of lumpia if I’m not careful. My two favorite dishes (out of many) are lumpia and fried rice. I’m not particular about the ingredients as long as Josie cooks them. The only thing about the lumpia that’s actually fattening is the wrapper. With fried rice, it’s obviously the rice.

I eat too much rice, whether it’s mixed with something else or not. I blame it on having a Filipino spouse and a lot of Filipino relatives, as well as my own general lack of willpower. Rice is a staple for Filipinos, regardless of what country they live in. I guess it’s a staple for me now as well, considering my 35 plus years of eating it more often than any other food on Earth.

Photo Attribution: 9972129 from Pixabay

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