Weird cravings seem to be a textbook feature of the first trimester. Depending on where you’re from, the classic pregnancy craving varies. In the Philippines it’s for sour green mangoes; a friend from the States mentioned ice cream and pickles.
Thankfully, I escaped my first trimester without any strange cravings. I’ve read first-trimester tales of women who can stomach nothing but crackers or keep down nothing but ice cream. I was quite normal. Nothing made me nauseous or turned me off apart from the smell of oil, and of eggs (which I’ve always hated anyway). I did experience a dip in appetite because I felt so bloated and full all the time. When I did want to eat, what I wanted was comfort food.
Luckily, I’m married to a domestic god whose idea of after-office decompression is disappearing into the kitchen and whipping up dinner for two. My first trimester was filled with many warm, comforting, delicious meals care of my loving husband, who never met a request he couldn’t fulfill.
With carbs back on the conjugal diet (dieting is a no-no during pregnancy!), Marlon produced a few of my all-time favorite baked goodies, such as cinnamon rolls and carrot cake…
… as well as large, chewy chocolate chip cookies that never made it past my pregnant jaws long enough to be photographed.
But mostly, comfort food meant food from home. Many of those dishes were a cinch for Marlon: beef salpicao, a spicy, garlicky gambas a la pobre like my family used to have at the Dean Street Cafe on Burgos Street in Makati, and a childhood breakfast favorite: Spam and rice with ketchup. He had to go to a special expat grocery for the Spam… they don’t sell it in the Netherlands!
A few dishes took a little more doing: mango ice cream, made from fresh mangoes (on a hot day) and piping hot arroz caldo with crunchy bits of chicken skin (on a typical rainy Amsterdam day).
Things started to get more challenging for Marlon when I saw the word bibingka in a magazine one day and decided I had to have it. “Really? Bibingka? You really want bibingka?” he asked with a frown. I knew he was thinking of all the
traditional shit special ingredients and equipment—sticky rice flour, hot coals, banana leaves and clay cookware—that goes into the making of a proper bibingka. “I’ll settle,” I replied.
By a stroke of luck, he found a tiny Filipino grocery tucked into de Pijp—and they had bibingka mix! It wasn’t great, to be honest, but topped with melted cheese and slices of salty butter, it was enough.
Probably the only serious craving I had was for daing na bangus—milkfish marinated in vinegar and garlic. I thought this would be the ultimate challenge for Marlon, but I underestimated my kitchen god.
After finding a whole milkfish at the market, he not only deboned, butterflied and marinated it… he also whipped out his beloved Staub cast iron wok and smoked it. Daing na nga, tinapa pa!
Marlon was expecting to be put through the wringer with impossible requests at odd hours of the night, but I was a good little pregnant wife. I think he enjoyed cooking up all of these great meals… and obviously, I was very happy eating them! (Particularly the smoked bangus, which we had more than once).
More importantly, my husband and his home-cooked comfort food made me feel loved and cared for. Pregnant or not, that feeling is something we all crave—something only the people who matter to us most can truly satisfy.
What’s your ultimate comfort food? And what have you been craving for lately?