“Hello! Kumusta? Mabuti!”
The greeting from Canadian Ambassador Neil Reeder’s friendly wife Irene took some guests by surprise.
Irene is adored in local circles for two things: her love of cooking and her conversant Filipino.
Not every diplomatic wife could have that gift of language, so hearing Irene speak Filipino confidently is definitely endearing.
Irene’s dual talents were put to good use when a group of philanthropic Filipino-Canadians paid the ambassador a visit earlier this month. (See related story on Page C1)
Led by the first Philippine-born Canadian Senator Tobias C. Enverga Jr., the group was feted to a Filipino-Continental breakfast mash-up lovingly prepared by Irene.
“I do not follow recipes. I cook what you will like, I cook what’s good for you.”
Sotanghon with lemon and garlic was cooked without oil.
“It’s neither Filipino nor Asian. And it’s steamed,” Irene announced with pride.
The ham and cheese quiche was spot-on, and there was the intriguing hotdog wrapped in zucchini and sliced into bite-size pieces—Irene’s personal attempt to convince junk food junkies to try veggies.
She just had to watch guests as they tried her ginataang langka.
“Masarap, di ba?” she asked.
Irene also served sliced eggplants topped with cheese and tomatoes, and the boiled eggs were coated in a delicate mustard sauce.
The mango salad stuffed in a bun was made from a carved banana. It looked like a bursting muffin to the untrained eye.
“I do not follow recipes. I cook what you will like, I cook what’s good for you,” she told Inquirer Lifestyle.
As expected, the guests ate with gusto. Enverga later stood up and praised Irene’s feast as “unique. I have not tasted this in Canada or in the Philippines. I hope Irene has a cookbook soon.”