One of my favourite Filipinos lives in Paris. Her name is Babette Aquino Benoit. I first met her as an observant 13 year old boy. She was a good friend of our family and a closer friend of my Mom. My first recollection of her was when she would be with my family during the rally’s against the Marcos dictatorship. While everyone else was sweating in the streets looking drab and dowry. There she was Tita Babette like a spring daisy in her white cotton linen ensemble with a touch of yellow. She was for all purposes was like a bright fresh daisy in the hot and humid summer of all our discontents.
Fast forward today where Tita Babette has made a beautiful life in Paris. She is a deeply private person who rarely goes out however when they are Filipino’s in town she opens up her beautiful home and gathers us all around her. In my mind it is because she wishes to be updated to what is going on back home. The truth of the matter is that those she invite becomes instant fans to her generosity and authentic effortless style.
The last time I was in Paris she promised that she would let me try her now famous beef Bourguignon. This classic french dish which takes days to properly prepare has been perfected by Tita Babette. When she invited me again to her home to celebrate the marriage of our friends Valentin and Charina, She told me that she was preparing that dish for dinner. I knew I couldn’t miss this chance. So there we were rushing from Portugal to Paris for this beautiful dinner hosted by Tita Babette.
We were running a few minutes late and they had just sat on the table when we arrived. Wonderful tales ensued of the wedding and that of the past. It was truly a beautiful evening given by an equally beautiful woman. Thank you Tita Babette for dinner but thank you more for inspiring all of us.