Baclayon native cooking

I first read this news feature in June where the writer was invited to judge a cooking contest in my hometown last summer. The contest, "Lutong Inato - Ato Jud Ni" featured heirloom recipes from some of the town residents.

I wish I was there to experience the event. I am no cook but I sure know how to taste good food when I try one. And besides, I miss native cooking. However, what I am more interested in is that each heirloom recipe submitted for this contest was accompanied by some narrative of the source or history of the recipe. Talk about feeding both body and brain! You are eating great tasting food and at the same time ingesting the story they tell.

Fifty-two dishes were served for the judges to rate in the following categories - Meat, Poultry, Seafood, Soups, Vegetables, Dessert and Merienda. An example mentioned of a recipe with a story to tell is the dessert "sangkuga." It became popular at a time when coconut trees were attacked by insects and young coconuts fell from the trees. The people made use of the young coconuts and scraped the soft inner shell and cooked this in coconut milk with muscovado sugar. This was then served with freshly grated mature coconut meat.

I remember as a child that our "utan bisaya" always has Bago leaves as an essential ingredient. We use to have these leaves bought in a public market like the one in Baclayon or picked from a neighbour's tree. These leaves figured prominently in some of the soups and vegetable dishes served during the contest.

Some of the recipe mentioned by the writer I am familiar with and have even tried them. Reading this article made me hungry that I longed to try them again. But writing this blog post is torture to my stomach, which right now is threatening to erupt like a volcano if I will not feed it. Food break!

Right, to go on with the torture. "Humba nangka," made from coconut milk, sili (pepper) and unripe mature fruit of nangka (jackfruit) is a worthy alternative to pork humba. Another delight mentioned was the soup made with "supsup," a conical shell where the end is cut off to ease the sucking of the meat from the opening, hence the name. The soup is delicious with or without coconut milk and lots of kamunggay (horse radish).

That soup evoked in me childhood summer memories that involved a lot of panginhas (shell gleaning) and panuwaki (gathering edible sea urchins) during hunasan (low tide). One time, as we are heading back home after panginhas and panuwaki, I and some cousins got waylaid by the presence of a lot of edible shells including the supsup. We gathered a lot for supper later that night. It was a delight for us city kids as we ate the fruits of our labour. We've broken sweat (or is it just seawater?) to gather them, you know.

Although cooking the supsup soup (no pun intended) is relatively easy, preparing the shells is quite laborious. The gathering of the shells is more fun provided you got lucky to find them in bulk in a small area. The hardest bit is the cutting of the pointed ends. These shells are small and you literally need 50-100 shells to feed a good number of people. Of course, if you don't have the time you can always run over quickly to the public market to but a "caltex"-ful, instead.

Back to contest, I am glad this happened. It is a good start towards preserving Baclayon's heritage on native cooking. What the article did not say, however, is what happened next after the contest. I am interested to know if a recipe book had been made that will be made widely available both in Baclayon and the rest of the province. Is this contest just a one-off or are there plans to continue it as a sort of an annual food festival held every summer? This activity for sure will attract many local and foreign tourists alike.

What about a restaurant in Baclayon showcasing not just the award winning recipes but all the recipes that were entered? Bohol is very well known for its fiestas and Baclayon is no exception. How about integrating this contest/program in both the town and barangay fiestas?

If you want to read the sourced article please click here.

(Note: This post first appeared in Bohol On My Mind blog on 22 August 2008.)

1 comment:

  1. Not sure if my last message got posted.

    In any case, please leave confidential email on fats.vitamins,minerals/journal for contact regarding life in Baclayon and Peterborough.



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