Aside from the silly subliminal thought that Lumpia is a a symbol for a human male’s genitalia, I don’t have special memories about it. Well aside from it being an ideal first date food.
If I never found out about Shanghai Lumpia (or Lumpiang Shanghai to be proper), I would have never liked Lumpia. What’s flashing at the top of my head whenever I think about Lumpia is a very oily and very gummy pastry, soggy and chewy almost-bamboo bamboo shoot filling and some green stuff that I don’t even know. In terms of Lumpia, my formidable years formed an ugly picture of it.
Until I met my wife in the form of a Lumpia Shanghai Goddess. It’s always the woman that changes a man you see. Yup, more than 20 years of ignoring the mighty cylinder of awesome crunchness. I pity myself. Now, I learned how to appreciate, cook and love Lumpia because her family makes it perfectly right. Not oily, not gummy, no soggy or weird feelings (see fillings).
So I decided to share their family recipe with you guys. I suppose, I partly own it now since I am a part of their family. They also make a mean Papaitan (Bitter Soup) but that can wait.
But first I want to take you on the journey of knowing what the Filipino Lumpia is aside from being a source of greed and envy during Filipino parties. Where does it come from, how did the wrapper meet the filling, and how many wars has it caused in the world. I heard they used them as currency before. It could have been the most rolled thing other than weed.
My childhood reflects exactly the attitude of most Filipinos toward their cuisine. I didn’t really bother myself to know more about Lumpia. I was just satisfied in saying no to it and I never really took the extra step to know where in the world it came from or how it ended up in my plate. I was just happy to ignore it. And it carries on when you go outside the Philippines. When it becomes OK to ignore your own food.
Well… what can you do about it?
If you have any ideas about the origin of Lumpia though, please, feel free to tell us about it and save other readers of some fictitious origin story that I will tell them next time.
(Argh. I hate it. I lost my writing powers.)