It’s Women’s History Month! I won’t cast too much blame if you hadn’t noticed. What with the coronavirus scare (did you know that the majority of informal caregivers are women?) and the presidential election (can’t say the same for the remaining candidates), we’ve gone into this annual celebration of women’s history a little bit distracted.
Leave it to Hood Famous Bakeshop to bring us back with an Instagram post featuring some ketchup-bottle shaped cookies and the story of a Filipina woman with local connections who used her love of food to change lives for the better. (We’re not talking about Hood Famous owner Chera Amlag, who was recently named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Northwest and Pacific award...but if the shoe fits.)
The bottle-shaped sugar cookies read “María,” a tribute to María Orosa e Ylagan—the Filipina food scientist who created the now-famous condiment banana ketchup during a tomato shortage caused by World War II. Orosa studied pharmaceutical chemistry and food chemistry at the University of Washington during the early 1920s, before returning to the Philippines, where her nutrient-dense foods made with native ingredients—like Soyalac, a high-protein, powdered soybean product—were smuggled into Japanese-run concentration camps, saving lives.
“Her food inventions have shaped Filipino cuisine and history—not just through a love of our food, but for a love of our people,” the Hood Famous Instagram caption reads.
We're looking forward to seeing what other Filipina women Hood Famous Bakeshop celebrates this month. And, no, the cookies don’t contain any banana ketchup. Though we’d definitely still try them if they did.