Food must have: Suman

I have a list of food and food outlets I must seek out and make sure to try every time I make the journey home.  Suman sa liya is one of them.  Unlike the other food items I seek out from specific outlets, I specifically look for the street variety suman from the market denizens and other itinerant vendors I bump into in the streets.

It’s a delicacy made of sticky rice and steamed to perfection wrapped in banana leaves.  It is generally not sweet and is mixed either with a creamy sauce of diluted  panutsa, or like I prefer, I mix it into shredded coconut and sugar (or in my case, Splenda.)

My mom would usually bring me some from a trip to church to hear mass or from the market, and we’d sit down and share this for breakfast.  I’ve had at least two versions since I arrived a week ago, and although one was different from the other, the feeling the food evokes and the sensation of actually biting into the yummy delicacy is as good each time.

I remember how I had always looked forward to the CWL (Catholic Women’s League) kakanin sale every first Sunday of the month at the Mount Carmel Church where I always got some suman as my weekend treat decades ago.  (Wondering if they still hold this to this day..)  It’s that kind of treat that you can’t quite get anywhere else with the same kind of oomph, no matter how they try to replicate the delicacy.


Pandesal for Angelo

Angelo, my 7-year-old tyke, has taken a liking to pandesal.  Whether it’s the one from the neighborhood bakery or from Pan De Manila over at Ortigas, he’s taken a liking first to the inner portion and of late, the toasted crust.  He has enjoyed taking a tricycle during the mornings that we bought the day’s supply and I’m beginning to worry about how I will deal with his cravings once we are back in New York.

He eats it not just for breakfast but for merienda (snack) as well.  It’s such a thrill for me to see him acquire a taste for something local and yet ordinary like pandesal.  Of course we have our versions in New York, but it’s not quite the same.  It’s not as soft, chewy nor as delicious.  The real thing back here still beats their American versions.

He likes it so much that his “can’t-live-without” goldfish crackers have stayed untouched for the past week we’ve been home.  (And to think I brought a ton for baon.)

He’s also back to Nuggets with Rice at McDonald’s.  (Only in Manila!)

I wish he could imbibe the language quicker, though, although it seems he’s starting to pick up phrases faster.  Three weeks just is never enough..