Best-selling cookery writer, chef, TV presenter and self-labelled "real food activist”, Melissa Hemsley joins Jimi for her joyful take on her mixed British and Filipino heritage and the elements that make up ‘home’ for her.
Melissa shares why her ideal restaurant always involves dogs, the rollercoaster reaction to her first appearance on ‘Gogglebox’, and the importance of the figure of "Big Vange" in her life. Plus, she reveals the initial backlash she experienced from the food industry as she wasn’t a professionally trained cook and discover if she did agree to cook for Gary Barlow and co on the road...
Jimi Famurewa: Welcome to Where's Home Really? With me, Jimi Famurewa, where I speak to public figures that we think we know and invite them to let us in on what really makes them tick. This show is about identity, heritage, and the way that different cultures overlap and intersect. And so far, we've heard from a mix of fascinating, thoughtful, well known names who have shared unique and personal insights into their lives.
Each episode I ask my guests to tell me how they define the idea of home. I'll do this by asking them about four key elements. Those elements are a person, a place, a phrase, and a plate. Now, for me, one of these would be the phrase, Don't go empty handed. And that comes from my mum, possibly giving us all a slightly neurotic attitude to bringing... things for people that we're visiting, whether that's like a pack of biscuits, a bottle of wine, or just arriving at someone's house. If they're welcoming you in as a guest with some sort of offering. And I always think of my mum's little voice in my head. When I'm off to visit someone, but I am here every week and you get to hear from me all the time.
So let's concentrate on my special guest for today.
Melissa Hemsley: When my sister and I started cooking for Take That, we were cooking for them during rehearsals and they said, could we talk about going on tour? And I just said to my sister, I like to be in bed early. I don't know if it's our Filipino blood, but we're not big drinkers.
We can't handle our alcohol. I like to know what's in my fridge.
Jimi Famurewa: Today's guest describes herself as a real food activist and a sustainability champion. She started out as a private chef before her first hugely successful cookbook brought her to the nation's attention via her own Channel 4 show with sister Jasmine, Eating Well with Hemsley and Hemsley. She's now a best selling cookbook author five times over and counting, with books like Eat Green, Eat Happy, and her latest, Feel Good.
Melissa Hemsley welcome.
Melissa Hemsley: Jimi. You got through it. You've done so much. Oh, did you see me close my eyes when you talked about the Channel 4 show? Oh, really? Oh, wow. I started as a private chef and one of my first clients is Gary Barlow. Just going to get in there straight away with my name drop.
Straight in there. The day it came out, obviously I was like, I'm never, I'm not going to watch this show. Gary texted me and went, what the hell? What the you should have asked me to sort the music out of your TV show. Oh no. But no, I do that show because one of the main reasons is I've got five God kids and they're all in the kids episode, the little sweeties.
Oh, I used to watch Gogglebox all the time. around when that show came out and my boyfriend said to me once, I wonder if your show might end up on Gogglebox. I said, why would it? Why would it? And then one day my phone blew up and it was everyone going, you're on Gogglebox and they're all taking the pee out of you.
Someone call social services. You're feeding the children pea ice cream. And then I could never watch Gogglebox after that. It was ruined for me.
Jimi Famurewa: The double edged sword of both kind of, oh wow, we're on Gogglebox. Oh god, we're on Gogglebox. But anyway, we will get into all that, we will cover pea ice cream.
We'll cover the TV show, we'll get into food, but I always like to start the show with the show title and I present it back to the guest and just right off the top, what does it mean to you, that phrase, that question of where's home really?
Melissa Hemsley: Probably going to cry. Oh, I'm feeling quite emotional today.
And as I was saying to you, I'm pregnant and I'm just feeling all the kind of feels. Thank you. I'm feeling all the feels of family and just listening to you talk about your mom. I feel and I was just away and I, was having a really lovely couple of days away and I just said to my boyfriend, so lovely, but I just miss my dog.
I just want to be around my dog. So I would say wherever's home is wherever my dog is, which is normally on the sofa or on the bed. She just oscillates between bed and sofa. She's nine and a half now. I've lived in the UK in army bases because my dad was in the army and then I've, yeah, lived in Germany a couple of times, but in army bases too.
So I guess I didn't experience the real Germany. I'm not sure I'm free spirited or not enough of a control freak to take a leap and try out living other places, but I think I'd like to. I think I'd like to experience different homes.
Jimi Famurewa: Yeah, that, that's interesting to me because you mentioned that you got your start as a private chef and I looked at that and you were working with actors and bands like take that and I thought oh wow that must be like a streak of like adventurousness and I wondered if that was linked to moving around a lot like as a army kid or army brat as they call it in a slightly insulting way in the US.
Melissa Hemsley: Gosh, very interesting question. Interestingly, when my sister and I started cooking for Take That, we were cooking for them during rehearsals and they said, could we talk about going on tour? And I just said to my sister, I like to be in bed early. I'm just know if it's our Filipino blood, but we're not big drinkers.
We can't handle our alcohol. I like to know what's in my fridge. And if I can, I like to be where I can cook. And that's the other thing. I love going away on holiday and eating out. But there comes gets to day four and I go, I just to be at home cooking now or going to the market and buying or going to supermarkets abroad are always way more exciting than supermarkets at home, aren't they?
I remember saying no to my sister, Jasmine, let's not try and be tour chefs because being a tour... being a chef is one skill, being a chef in a restaurant is another skill. Being a tour chef, not knowing where you're going to be every day, where are you going to get your produce from cooking at 7pm and then at 11pm when they come off stage, that is just a whole level of stress.
I don't do I didn't do that part and hats off to all of the private chefs that tour the world with their bands and their superstars and on film sets. I couldn't do that.
Jimi Famurewa: The sort of homebody instinct took over there. And I want to kick off with the elements and why don't we start with your place?
Which one have you gone for? Because as you mentioned there, your mum's Filipina. And so you're half Filipino, half English, British, but you grew up in, in different parts of the world. You were spent a lot of your childhood in Surrey. Is that right? Kind of Surbiton kind of way.
Melissa Hemsley: Which I thought was the countryside Surrey are, but really it's just suburbia.
It's just greater London.
Jimi Famurewa: Nothing wrong with suburbia. I've come to really be proud of my suburban roots.
Melissa Hemsley: But I used to tell people I lived in the countryside and then they went, that's not countryside. The first thing I thought about where I feel really at home is, have you come across the lovely Imad of Imad's Syrian Kitchen?
Yeah. Yeah. I'm, I was thinking, I'm pretty sure I've seen you write about him and enjoy his food before. Now he has this permanent restaurant now on Carnaby Street, which is incredible. He had five restaurants and juice bars in Damascus where he's from. And I've known him probably for about eight years.
And I would say in a way, when I think about where I feel most happy or where I maybe want to celebrate or commiserate or gather friends or go for a meal by myself would be wherever he's cooking. And I've been fed by him in pop ups. I remember one day he was at Spitalfields market serving about, it felt like 20, 000 falafels.
Jimi Famurewa: -
He ws selling falafel in Calais, in the Jungle, the kind of place where people that were trying to make their way to the UK, were at that point.
Melissa Hemsley: He's probably fed me 20 times, let's say. And I almost can't, don't think about where we are. It's just that he makes you feel like you're in his front room. Yes.
Or you're in his kitchen. And that's what I like about restaurants. I'm not, I don't like fancy. I don't like whispery. Oh my God. Whispery places or clinky places. Yeah, I really. When you go to France, everywhere's dog friendly, as an example, right? But in the UK, you can't bring your dog to many places.
Not many places at all. And I would love to be able to take my dog to places and I would love to be able to take my shoes off in places. And I would like to go in and I would like someone to just say, this is what you're eating, which is what Imad does. And then, and also here's some extra for you to snack on for a midnight feast or for breakfast tomorrow.
That's my kind of restaurant.
Jimi Famurewa: Sounds to me like you're recreating a front room or like a home, basically. And look, it's a business model that I can get behind, maybe like a sort of blanket as well.
Melissa Hemsley: I was going to say blanket, and then I thought, no, now I'm really being silly.
But yeah, a nice blanket, a nap between courses.
Jimi Famurewa: Is that how you remember gravitating towards food and the kitchen and your upbringing? What was what was home like when you were growing up and on these kind of army base houses?
Melissa Hemsley: Thing about the army bases, we lived on an army base in Kingston.
So that was probably age zero to six. And then one army base in Germany, and then another like around eight, and then back to the army base in Kingston. And people are just coming and going. You've got people from all over the world. Did it feel like a bit of a bubble? It did a little bit. It did, because you're not necessarily around, you're not going to school with German kids, necessarily.
You're going to school with other army kids. And people come and go. Yeah. But of course I did after school activities and I'm in the community and my mum's a big church goer. She's Catholic we would always meet other people and my mom's from the Philippines. So I guess having spoken to her now, I said to her, what was it like being a young Filipino woman marrying a British officer and then moving to Berlin?
And being in an army base, how did people treat you? Did people, were people kind? Were they welcoming? Did they expect, did they show you the ropes? And she said that by and large, yeah, she was really welcomed. And her mother in law showed her how to cook, which I'm going to take a picture of this amazing book and send it to you. And it's from my dad and grandma, who I never met, called Rosemary. And they, it was like a book of, it's such a funny book, it's like a book of recipes that my mum could get to know as a sort of British officer's wife. And when I was growing up, I had no idea what, if something was German, if we were eating something Filipino, if we were eating something English.
Was it just the mix? It was the mix.
Jimi Famurewa: Yeah, wow, incredible. What kind of things are we talking?
Melissa Hemsley: I remember, I can't speak much Tagalog, but I know the word, which is the official national language of the Philippines, but there's lots of dialects because there's 7, 000 islands. And so my mom can speak Papangan, Tagalog, and some other dialects too.
And there's a word called baon, B A O N, and it means like snacks or lunchbox. And I just thought it was an English word. So I would say to people, what's in your baon? And they'd be like, what? And I was like, Oh, can I have some of your monster munch from your baon? Pickled onion monster munch, my absolute kryptonite.
And so I didn't know that, but I sadly I can't say much else in Tagalog. I can swear. I can say I'm really hungry. And I know the word cute, because, Filipinos will say you're cute.
Jimi Famurewa: It almost feels like it could be like a sort of personality test. You can say cute, you can swear, you can say you're hungry.
Yeah, that's all you need.
Melissa Hemsley: And of course, thank you, and please. Yes, of course, yeah. But, I'm going to have a baby, this summer, and it's amazing how, and I've been trying to conceive for a while, so I've been, thinking about these things. What I want to teach my child or what have I learned anything valuable or what things did I not enjoy about childhood or what parts of me are not great, that I'm not a fan of, that I would like my child not to inherit or to what baggage.
And I have really found myself texting my mom a lot and saying, I'm really annoyed you didn't teach me more Tagalog. I'm really annoyed you didn't take me to the Philippines more. Please can you make sure that you speak to my child in Tagalog? I'm half Filipino. Will my child look Filipino? Will my child feel Filipino?
Will it have a connection? And my mom's sort of the last connection. So that's all been really interesting. And so it was lovely when you got in touch and said, can I come on? Because I thought, these are the things I've been thinking about, my identity. So yeah, it's quite interesting.
Jimi Famurewa: I love that note about you just thinking baon was just like a word that everyone, that kind of just implies like how it was all mixed up in quite a kind of pure way for you.
Like it was oh, these are just, this is just what you call it. Were there any other instances where you were aware of that difference?
Melissa Hemsley: I remember being a little kid and crying one day because I wanted to be blonde and little and I was brown, but not just that, I was so tall. I really was tall from an early age.
So I think it was the combined. And I remember thinking, none of the boys are going to fancy me. I remember my sister who's six years older saying to me, you're going to love being different when you're older. Oh my God. That's sweet. But at the time you're like, What is older?
I just want it to be nice now. The other thing I remember is, I remember someone saying, Your mum's got a weird voice. And I had never heard my mum's accent before. I had never noticed it. And I remember not saying anything to her and feeling quite like, burning, like shameful, of which I, of course, didn't need to feel, but I remember then it coming up later and then my mum would say, you know what, when someone's got an accent, it means they speak at least one more language than you.
Jimi Famurewa: Go on your mum
Melissa Hemsley: And then another thing I remember is our house would always smell different. With my mum, having people around was always such a stress. And so we, we weren't natural hosts. So if someone said come to mine, I'd always go to theirs.
And then, and my parents were quite strict as well. And then I remember someone coming around and I was like, it's about time we, returned the favor. And I remember them like walking in and just, they're kids, right? They don't get it. Like sniffing the air and being like, their nose wrinkling a bit.
And I realized it's because my mom cooked with so much onion, garlic, ginger, and fish. And there's a fermented fish paste, a bit like shrimp paste in Thailand called Bagoong. Bagoong. Even the name of it, Bagoong.
Jimi Famurewa: Welcome back to Where's Home Really? With me, Jimi Famurewa, and my guest, Melissa Hemsley. Hello. We're talking about food and why don't we get straight onto your plate then? It's an agonizing question, isn't it, to try and pin it down to one plate, but what have you gone for? What is the dish that makes you think of home?
Melissa Hemsley: Surprisingly not Filipino based. I've gone for, I bent the rules a bit. I basically said a combination of tomato and cheese. So these are the things that came out of me. A bowl of spag bol and parmesan, a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheddar cheese toastie. Really olive oily tomato, Greek style braised butter beans with feta, a tomato salad and fried halloumi.
Basically anything tomato. based with cheese. So I've gone I've cheated a bit, but yeah,
Jimi Famurewa: and we don't mind a bit of rule bending when it comes to these elements. What is it about that combination and that set of dishes I'm getting, almost like succour and comfort.
Melissa Hemsley: Sometimes my boyfriend will say, what do you fancy? And I'll say, I'll be like kids, like a kid's meal, like a kid's tomato, something a bit sweet. I don't want a fancy like tomato and basil and garlic. I want like kids and it's just going to be interesting having children. Am I just going to go wild and basically eat kids food?
But yeah, that comfortingness also, I think that. I didn't hugely have that much, kids food. If I'm going to keep going with this thing, when I was younger, because my mom would give us, yeah, she would give us smoked mackerel or sardines on toast for breakfast because she wanted us to be doctors.
And she was like, let's get your brains well fed, oily fish, walnuts. How can I get them? How can I get one of my two daughters to be a doctor? Sorry, fail there.
Jimi Famurewa: I noticed that we are talking about a very important person in your life. So it feels like a really opportune moment to hit that element.
Which is the person for you? I feel like we've already started
Melissa Hemsley: Could you guess? Yeah. I've put, it's gotta be my mum, big Vange. She's called Evangelina. Big Vange. Big Vange. Evangelina. Evangelina really is pronounced. But I've said the person has got to be my mum and all the Filipina titas, which means auntie.
Oh yes. That I grew up with because some of them are not my auntie real aunties because they're in the Philippines. Oh yes. So I said some by blood, some not. Yes. So everyone's an auntie.
Jimi Famurewa: Alongside your mum. They are the people that for all sorts of reasons clearly have had
Melissa Hemsley: such an effect. Yeah.
Yeah. They've definitely shaped me. And, you've got Sunday prayers, of course, but then what my mum would do and my titas would do Friday night prayers. And often it was at our home and then the doorbell would start going and, when you get to the awkward stage, you're like, I don't want to answer the door and make small chat with the aunties.
Cause you're just a bit selfish and you want to watch neighbors home in a way heartbreak high. Like you want to watch your schedule. So the doorbell would go. They'd come and pinch my cheek, they'd love to tell you how much weight you'd put on. And if you got offended, you were at fault because in the Filipino culture, apparently it was a compliment because it meant you were wealthy enough to afford to eat.
So that was that's for another podcast. But I found that quite tricky going through puberty. and being told like, ah, you're like you're fatter than last week. Great. Thank you, Tita. Please come in. Then they would all, and they'd be like piles of foil covered food or and that would be from an auntie that had already prepared.
Pre prepared her food or there'd be ones rushing in with the ingredients because they hadn't started. So everyone would be telling each other off, getting in the way in the kitchen. So some cooking, some half cooking, someone telling someone off for taking up too much space. They'd be speaking Taglish, Tagalog English.
So you'd pick up a few words and then you know when they're talking about you because they all look at you and then switch into the language that you don't know. They'd be cooking, and what was beautiful was, so they'd be cooking, the rice cooker would go on, sometimes several times, sometimes other rice cookers would arrive because there was so much rice being made, and then they would leave the kitchen, go into another room, which sometimes would be the room that you wanted to watch TV, so you'd get chucked out, and then they would pray they pray, it's called pray the rosary and they would sing and it was really quite beautiful.
And again, looking back now, I like, I think some of the women, Filipino women that my mom would literally pick up at church or in the supermarket, she'd go up to anyone and be like, are you Filipino?
Jimi Famurewa: Yeah. Cause I was going to say where did this kind of community come from?
Cause I was thinking. Did she feel isolated? But clearly she went out and found people that were of the same culture and that she could bring into the fold and found this family in diaspora, basically.
Melissa Hemsley: Think if I were to ask her, she would always turn it back and go, it's my duty.
The word duty. It's my duty. It's my responsibility. It's my job. It's my Christian. It's my Filipino blood within me too. to scoop up and welcome because maybe some of these women are over here to be nurses, to be nannies, to work as cleaners and have come over, left their kids behind, left their partners behind, and they're over here to wanting to work really hard to send all their money back.
So maybe they're not. spending money on themselves or don't have much money to begin with, and my mum would just welcome them. And then of course, there was always the core of, one of them was my real blood auntie, one of them was my godmother, one of them I grew up with my whole life and is still around my mum's house now, but people would come and go.
And so they would pray together. It would be beautiful, the singing. And I remember there'd be like one hymn and I knew when that hymn came. it was like five minutes to eating. So I'd be like, come on. And then sometimes they'd make me, my mom would be like, come on, you have to come and be part of prayers today.
But often I'd get out of it with I'm doing my homework. Mom, don't you want me to get good A levels to go to medical school? And then we'd all go into the kitchen. And then the bit you really want to hear is we would just feast and feast and everybody would. 10 times the amount you needed so that everybody could then leave on Friday night with food from everybody so that you could eat all weekend.
So that was really nice. So it was like leftovers on purpose. You eat really well Friday and then you take food home and everyone be bickering, but like in a really generous way Oh no, I've taken too much. No. Take more. Take more. And then being like, Oh my God, she took so much. And it was great.
Jimi Famurewa: We need to get a phrase from you as well. You've got a lot of options, like more than most it seems whether it is something from Tagalog. What was your kind of intuitive, instant response to that question?
Melissa Hemsley: It will be probably on my mum's headstone. I'm sorry, that's really dark, isn't it?
It'll probably be on my headstone, but her phrase is every grain of rice, which basically is about not wasting and also honoring every single grain of food, what the sun and the water did to grow the rice, to the farmers, to how it got to you. And. It was drilled into me in a way of, so I'm a kid and I'm sat there and it's something I don't want to eat.
Maybe it was like the 10th fish meal that week with the rice. And I'm, I'm trying to eat it, but there's, a little bit left. It would be, how can you leave that? And she would often say your Filipino cousins, would kill for that. And so part of me would be like, Oh God, the mealtime is not fun and it's not enjoyable and I'm forcing it, but I get it now and I am, I actually, if I'm ever, if I'm ever cooking and someone fills their plate and then doesn't finish it, I'm like, whether I've cooked it or not, I'll be, I'll literally look at the plate and I'll be like shall I have some?
What can the dog eat? What can I turn into a soup tomorrow? Yeah. I look at the plate like that. So that's, I think, and I think that's a positive thing. I think that we did fall as a society into a place where we just thought the food would keep coming forever. And I will always take food leftover from a restaurant.
Nuno Mendes was cooking years ago. A press dinner, Portuguese chef of Lisboeta and other restaurants. And fantastic. And obviously incredible at his grilled meats and his veggies. And we had a press dinner and the food was just coming out comically over fed, like it was, I impress, it was, we were there to try it, support it, review it.
And then at the end of the meal, people couldn't eat anymore. And it was just there and I knew it was going to go. And I was like, Oh, I'm around some real foodies. Am I going to be that person? Cause sometimes people are like, Oh, what is she doing? And I went, I'm not seeing this food go to waste. So I gathered it up.
I actually ended up giving some away at the tube station because I found someone that was hungry. And then I took the rest home. And I remember the next morning. Sorry, Nuno, but I fried up some of the meat, I cracked an egg in, and it was even better the next day.
Jimi Famurewa: Not really spoken too much about your amazing cookbooks and the work that you do, but it seems really interesting, just looking from the outside, that your food... philosophy and your approach has evolved like so much from when you first emerged them alongside your sister. And at the time of the Channel 4 shows, I remember I was working like, in house, like the evening standard at that time. And I remember, you were bracketed with Deliciously Ella and things like that.
And there was this kind of clean eating movement that became its own sort of whirlwind, didn't it? And it seems like maybe you've been on this conscious path just in terms of just cooking and approaching food in a different way. How do you reflect on that?
Melissa Hemsley: Because at the time it was a big movement of. Male and female figures, and interestingly, those that actually branded themselves the clean eaters, in their books, Clean and Lean and Get Lean, they didn't get any backlash. I don't know if you spotted that. Yeah, that's a really good point. And the chefs that had calorie controlled diet books and said, buy my book and you'll lose weight didn't get put into that movement, but the female food figures were blanketed. And we actually never used that term. And I remember our publishers at one point, I remember being in a paper, not your paper, but one paper one week with our sharing meat and dairy and fish recipes and cakes.
It was like a big spread. They were like, they were promoting us and celebrating us and saying lovely things. And then the next week, there was an article saying how, because we were vegan clean eaters, we were contributing to a crisis. And I remember my publisher saying we're just going to send them the article they wrote last week, just to show that they just contradicted themselves.
And that was tricky because in general, the advice being given to us, and we're talking 12 years ago, was just don't say anything. Just keep doing what you're doing. As an older woman and looking back, I probably would have just answered back and called people up and also use my own platforms to actually call out the hypocrisy, the contradictions from one week to the next in the same paper.
Having said that. I also learned a valuable lesson, which is be really clear in your communications and how much words have power. So if you do an interview for three hours or you write a book for three years and someone extracts one line or one recipe, you want to be as clear as possible because they're not going to refer to the other page where you've gone and talked about something else.
They might hone in. So I do try and keep it. if you go onto my Instagram profile or my books now, I try and keep it, more welcoming. I try and really press home the fact that I try and create recipes that everyone can enjoy. And that means from your meaty, your omnivores to your plant based, to your young, to your old, your confident, not confident, those who've got a little bit more budget to play with, those that are really watching their budgets.
I'm trying to cook in the space for everyone. So yes, there were some valuable lessons learned. One is that I would speak up more, the other that I would be careful, more careful in the words I used, and also and it's so funny and I'm sad that we've never met, but also what's interesting is so many people that may have written things then have only shared every thing they've even very swiftly after that all happened and even now will whisper to me almost as a sort of sturdy secret how much they love my recipes or cook them.
And I'm always like, am I some someone's dirty secret?
Jimi Famurewa: to see now and it's evident in your current book, you've got mum's Filipino chicken in there. You've got, you're talking about mood boosting and recipes, thinking about life. You're talking about stocking freezers in the building on those kinds of philosophies that that, that network of aunties gave you as you were growing up.
And so it just feels like there's a army of aunties. Yeah. It feels like you've from the outside that you're in this place where it is you being all the different versions of yourself and on your own terms.
Melissa Hemsley: And I guess that is what comes with confidence. And I also see, looking back now, how maybe quite irritating my sister and I were because we were publishing cookbooks with amazing publishing houses, who publish Ottolenghi, Mary Berry, Rick Stein, Jamie Oliver.
And we hadn't done the legwork of working our arses through the ranks of the chef world. Yeah. Because back then, it was a long time before I called myself a chef, because I was told I couldn't because I wasn't trained. But actually a chef is a professional cook. And I am a professional cook, that's my business, but for a long time it was like, who do they, it was very much, who do they think they are?
They've got cookbook deals, they're writing recipes, they're, and I see now how incredibly protective, and I understand it. Some people are about the food space and the restaurant space, I, and I also, now I see You know, the TikTok food stars, and I see them getting a hard time. And I'm like, come on, everyone.
Like who decided that only a few people were allowed to share recipes? Why do you have to deserve to write a cookbook? If someone wants to buy your cookbook, make a cookbook. Also having said that, what I've learned is how incredibly triggering talking about food can be and how emotional going right back to what you said at the beginning and what your podcast is about, the relationships we have from childhood, even in the womb till the day we die around food. You think about people's last supper requests. I think about what my dad would ask for when he had, barely any taste buds left functioning, but he wanted the smell of coffee and food is so emotional. And if you inadvertently trigger someone or upset someone, it's complicated.
Jimi Famurewa: Can you think of the impact that Filipino culture has had on Britain itself at large, like a positive impact, whether through food or culture or people. I think the Philippines is a strange one in that maybe it's a misunderstood nation in some ways and people don't necessarily know it as well as they should.
It's particularly in terms of cuisine.
Melissa Hemsley: Think that the Filipino sour, tangy flavors has really impacted the way I like to eat. I'm not a big sugary person. I love. I prefer dark chocolate and cheese and as a pudding, but I love sour, I love my limes and lemons and Filipino food is so interesting, not least because the Philippines is named after King Philip of Spain, who was a colonizer 400 years ago.
So you've got lots of incredible mixers. You've got Spanish flavors, so you've got tomatoes, bay leafs and garlic. And then you've got a Chinese and Indian influence of people that came to live there. Pancit noodles, we call them party noodles in our house, are based off a, a Chinese chow mein noodle dish.
Yeah. Like loads of veggies and so on. And it's not particularly spicy. So I think that Filipino food's really family friendly as well. I'd love to spend more I need to spend more time in the Philippines and get to know the cooking more
Jimi Famurewa: From my vantage point as somebody that writes about food, I'm seeing more and more Filipino cuisine permeating and you're absolutely right that sweetness, that sourness, that punch, but also it's like amazing diversity as a cuisine is something that I'm seeing more of and hopefully There'll be even more of to come, really infiltrating British palates and kitchens.
Melissa, this has been so great. Thank you so much for your time. I'm so excited for you about to become a mum. I know, I can't believe it. Yeah, just get the oily fish going and finally maybe your mum will have a doctor. Thank you
Melissa Hemsley: Thank you, Jimi. Bye.
Jimi Famurewa: I absolutely loved chatting to Melissa. She had so much to say, and gave so much in terms of really unpacking her upbringing, her... Mom's role, how Filipino culture and heritage has really shaped the person she is. And it really felt to me like I had a completely new look at her, really. I just don't think I realized that...
The significance of her mum and that side of her culture and her attitude to food has really formed the person that she is. Yeah, it was really great to speak to her. So that's all for this particular episode of Where's Home Really? With me, Jimi Famurewa. Join me again next time for some more insightful stories from people from all over the globe to find out where for them is really home. If you're enjoying this Where's Home Really? podcast, please do give us a follow on your favorite podcast platform. You've heard it before, but it really does make a difference. And of course, we'd love to hear what you think. So leave us a comment or a review.
From Podomo and Listen, this has been Where's Home Really? Hosted by me, Jimi Famurewa. The producers are Tayo Popoola and Aidan Judd. The executive producers for Podomo are Jake Chudnow and Matt White. And for Listen, it's Kellie Redmond.