Nina Daza-Puyat On Keeping Her Mother’s Legacy Alive Through Cooking



Looking for a new hobby to take on with your mom? Here’s an idea: Cooking. Start by looking at recipes from the newest edition of Let’s Cook With Nora.

Related: 7 Books To Keep You Company During The Quarantine

The year was 1965. When culinary icon Nora Daza first came out with her cookbook, Let’s Cook With Nora, it quickly turned into a sensation, encouraging Filipinos to spend more time in the kitchen and prepare their meals with love. Daza won the hearts of many, specifically wives and mothers who were expected to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner (and maybe even merienda) for their families.

Fast forward to today—a deeper interest in food and travel has led home cooks to become more informed. In addition to this, ingredients have also grown to be more abundant. This is what led Nina Daza-Puyat and her team to think about updating her mother’s cookbook. True enough, Daza Puyat stumbled across ingredients that weren’t in the market anymore and long procedures written in paragraph form. She knew it was time.

“What pushed me to do this is that firm belief that my mother would have wanted me to do the update,” she shares.

Trial And Error:

Daza-Puyat then took on the year-long project, which included retesting all 260 recipes in the book. “I felt that it was important that the recipes needed to be more relatable to today’s cook,” she starts. “We now have such a wide array of ingredients in the supermarkets and wet markets. Compared to then, we now have different kinds of herbs, a variety of cheeses, fresh mushrooms and other choices of protein. It’s really a wonderful time for anyone to learn how to cook.”

Throughout the project, Daza-Puyat also went through moments of self-discovery. “While I had been cooking from the cookbook all my life, there were some recipes I was encountering for the first time. Most of them turned out to be good, but unfortunately, there were a handful that were underwhelming, so that’s when I decided to tweak a little,” she shares. Some of these recipes include Kilawin Librillo at Labanos, Batchoy and Cheese Chiffon Cake. One particular favorite of hers, now the Homemade Thin Crust Pizza, used to be named Pizza Pie—a recipe that was simply renamed from its old, retro one. “I have my mother’s name and reputation to live up to, so I made sure that I kept the highest standard when approving the final dish,” she adds.

How Her Experience As Appetite Magazine’s EIC Has Helped

Daza-Puyat’s illustrious six-year stint as editor-in-chief of Appetite Magazine certainly helped in preparing her for this project. “I learned so much about recipe development, kitchen testing, recipe writing, food photography, among others. I will forever be grateful to the late Sari Yap for giving me this opportunity. I met the most hardworking, most creative, most passionate people,” she shares.

Back To Basics

These days, it is all too easy to pick up your phone and google whatever recipe you fancy that day. While there is certainly efficiency in this, Daza-Puyat reminds us of the beauty of a well-written cookbook, especially if it is made by somebody you trust. “Being able to actually leaf through the pages feels more like an authentic experience. You can write notes on the page and make the recipe more suitable to your taste. The cookbook feels like it’s yours, whereas an online recipe feels like it belongs to everyone,” she shares.

Daza-Puyat shares many wishes for the next generation of home cooks, and her efforts in updating her mother’s cookbook will definitely pave the way for them. “My wish for Millennial cooks is that they will become more independent—whether through learning to buy ingredients in the wet market or prepping their own ingredients. This empowerment can also be achieved by cooking one good recipe at a time. Once they get positive feedback from family and friends, they will be encouraged to try cooking another dish,” she says.

Advice For Home Cooks:

The secret ingredient for successful home cooking? Curiosity. More than anything, Let’s Cook With Nora empowers the Filipino reader to be bolder and more curious in the kitchen. “Even when my mom was in her 80s, she remained curious and excited to learn a new dish,” Daza-Puyat shares. Discovery then stems from this curiosity, and from there, a desire to share this wonderful dish to those closest to your heard. Cooking is a love language, after all.

This article was originally featured on MEGA March 2020. To see the issue, grab a copy on Magzster.

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