Chicken sotanghon with patola. Or chicken vermicelli soup with Chinese okra. Or Filipino chicken noodle soup.

chicken sotanghon with patola (or chicken vermicelli soup with chinese okra)

My dad made this soup for lunch one day, after a long morning of playing pretend with a a certain two-year-old. It was warm and comforting and filling. The noodles were enjoyably slurpable, the broth steaming and flavorful, and the patola (Chinese okra) was kind of like a cucumber. Another one of those dishes that I'm not quite sure if my parents just made up or if it's actually a soup served in Filipino households.

Dad called it Filipino chicken noodle soup. Which was what I was planning on titling this post until someone commented on my Flickr photo of this dish. In Tagalog.

"Anu yan Filipino sotanghon?"

chicken sotanghon with patola (or chicken vermicelli soup with chinese okra)

My first reaction was, "Uhhhh...what?" Yes, it's true: I don't understand my parents' native language, even though I grew up hearing it every day of my life. Back then, my parents didn't know that little kids soak up languages like a sponge, so they taught my sisters and I only English so we wouldn't get confused. My Filipino vocabulary was limited to such words as "vomit," "butt," "naked," and "fart." Oh, and "Have you eaten yet?"

Now, of course, I wish I had learned it. Not being able to understand makes me feel a sort of disconnect, leading me to wonder...Am I Filipino-American? Or American-Filipino? Oh God. Does that even make sense?

OK, clearly it's getting late, and what started out as a post about a soup with slurpy noodles has turned into a mini cultural identity crisis, which is just absurd. So let's wrap things up, shall we?

chicken sotanghon with patola (or chicken vermicelli soup with chinese okra)

Here's my conclusion: Foods in different languages just sound way better than their English counterparts. Filipino chicken noodle soup, or chicken sotanghon with patola? No contest. So what if I had to ask my mom what sotanghon means? I guess it just goes to show that if there's one language I can learn, it's that of food.

*The question on Flickr asked if the photo is of sotanghon, or vermicelli. Also known as glass noodles.


  1. Isn't it weird on how all our parents did the same thing with English at home rather than Tagalog? But nonetheless, no matter what it's called it still made me mad hungry when I saw the picture. :)

  2. Oh how nice that your dad can cook up a lovely soup like this.

  3. erwin - my mom talks to my baby niece in tagalog every once in a while, now that she knows children learn other languages easily. glad you liked the soup photos!

    joie de vivre - i love my dad's cooking!


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