Rosell’s first job was a door to door salesperson of the popular Filipino street food snack; Kamote cue. Most commonly consumed post afternoon siesta and served with coffee or tea, Kamote cue is a local sweet potato, caramelised in brown sugar and found in markets across the Philippines. During the afternoon, Rosell and her friend would distribute the sweet potato, prepared by the friend’s mother, using rice baskets and ringing a handbell, the two girls would announce “Kamote cue” as they approached neighbours houses. Each portion was sold for about 80 pesos (60 cents) and the girls were allowed to keep some of the profit. Rosell was 7.
Born in the Philippines in the island of Bohol, Rosell moved to Australia at the age of 10. The move was not just a change of countries, but also a significant change in environment; transitioning from a childhood of nature, living close to a rainforest, to suburban Western Sydney. “Growing up we didn’t have anything… to amuse ourselves we had to create toys. Out of plastic bags and sticks we made kites. We even made a tree house”. Significantly impressionable, Rosell’s early years carried with her to Australia and and continue to formulate her craft as an artist. Much of Rosell’s work, as an illustrator and muralist, reveal symbols of her childhood in the Philippines, most notably, the native flora and fauna.
Rosell’s heritage, although now highly referenced in her work, was a facet of her life she attempted to conceal during her initial school years in Sydney. Arriving in Australia with no knowledge of English, Rosell was a shy child, who endeavoured to inconspicuously blend with her schoolmates; particularly during communal activities, and lunchtime was no exception. Traditional Filipino cuisine such as Adobo and rice were regularly packed by Rosell’s mother, much to the alarm of Rosell, who would ritually inspect her lunchbox before leaving her house, wanting prevent her classmates from seeing her native food. “I had to take things out from my lunch box because it was too much. I just put it back in the kitchen. I had to put them back. I was embarrassed”.
Simultaneously, while Rosell was suppressing elements of identity, adolescence was also a period where she began exploring her artistic capabilities. It was in her Sydney primary school where Rosell was introduced to creativity as a skill that could be recognised and revered; not just an avenue for toy and game production. “One of my classmates was drawing and I was surprised that we could do that in a thinking school. But as soon as I saw him I started painting as well. The teacher handed out acrylic, charcoal and watercolours. It was the first time I tried all mediums”.
From a source of embarrassment during childhood, Filipino delicacies became a symbol of nostalgia, identity and belonging in adulthood. During a recent trip to the Phillipines, Rosell asked her cousin to drive her to the markets to purchase Banana cue; “We went there and I saw the same families were still there that had been selling the snacks for decades. I went over to buy some and they asked me how many. I said I will buy them all”.
4-6 Bananas (Best to use Saba Bananas as they are sweeter).
2 Cups of brown sugar
Canola Oil as needed (2-3 cups)
In a saucepan, heat the canola oil
Once oil is hot, deep fry the banana for 2-3 minutes
Pour brown sugar a table spoon at a time and lower the heat
After adding the sugar, constantly and gently stir the oil
Once the banana has been cooked, remove and immediately insert a bamboo skewer before the banana cools and the toffee hardens.
For extra sweetness, the banana can be covered in extra sugar when served.