Lumpia: my favourite kind of spring roll. I used to think spring rolls were interchangeable, but not this one. Days dipping fingertips into the water to wet the sides of thin translucent crepe paper pastry. We mixed the vegetables, meat, and heavy doses of herbs and spices, mixed it sticky into round ball babies and rolled them into their blankets, wrapping them snuggly and folding the covers with the intricacy of napkins or origami swans. The thrill of you holding the pan and me dropping in each one with a sizzle. I watched your patience, your lumpia perfect symmetrical rows of dancers. It was always clear which were the ones I made, irregular and made with love not skill, but you would choose those ones to eat. We plated them and let the kitchen roll absorb the oils. We would get soy sauce and Mang Tomas banana ketchup, swooping them into the cold dip, steam pouring out from the first bite. I never had the patience to let them cool. I loved the crisp crunch as the pastry would chip and fall, the warming golden fried delight and the piping hot surprise. It would be a day of cooking and grazing, always eating or rolling or frying. As I eat this lumpia from a local restaurant, a stone’s throw from my flat, a special lockdown treat, I think of my mother on the other side of this island and text her to ask her for her recipe.
Katalina Watt is a Filipino-British author published in Haunted Voices, Ceremony, Unspeakable, Malefaction Magazine’s Femme Fatale, and Extra Teeth Issue Two. She can be found at katalinawatt.com and @katalinawatt.