Some old Kagay-anon merienda favorites-A A +A
Sunday, September 23, 2012
MANI, mani, mani!
IN THE 1950s, there were vendors in Divisoria who sold peanuts or mani that were neatly wrapped in old newspapers shaped like cones. They sat beside their nigos that were heaping with mounds of peanuts cooked either sinanlag or roasted and binocal or boiled. Some of them sold both kinds of peanuts that were placed in separate nigos. Perched on top of the peanuts were two old milk cans that were used as "taksanan," the small one was for the cinco or five centavos and the big one for the diez or ten centavos worth of peanuts.
The mani vendors were regular fixtures inside movie theaters. They go around the theater aisles, usually in the orchestra section, with their big bamboo baskets filled with mani in cone-shaped wrappers and saying in semi loud tones, "Mani, mani, mani!"
The wonder of wonders was that the moviegoers were not at all bothered with these vendors. It was a treat for them to eat peanuts while watching a movie, in the same way that families eat this during the Sunday Serenatas at Kiosko Divisoria. Young people spend a lazy afternoon talking and -- what else? -- eat mani! So it was common to see peanut shells everywhere. So it was no surprise that at that time, Kagay-anons were considered as the most intelligent voters in the country. Could this be because of the super brain food -- our mani?
From Erlin Wabe-Guerrero, I learned that the once popular maning sinanlag was roasted in a unique way. The peanuts with their shells intact were placed on an iron vat or cawa that was on top of a bed of live coals. And here is what makes the taste special -- a big amount of dry sand taken from the seashore was placed in the cawa full of raw peanuts. A small wooden paddle was used to keep turning the peanut and sand mixture till it is cooked. As an added measure, dry the newly roasted peanuts under the sun for a day or two before it is eaten. No oil or other fancy ingredient was added. The roasted peanuts were dry not oily, it was crunchy and simply addicting!
The maning binocal or boiled peanuts was boiled in salted water and it was also a nice treat. We still see boiled peanuts sold around the city. It is placed in big tin containers with portable stoves and sold hot. Lami gihapon! (still delicious).
When all kinds of cooked peanuts with their colorful packaging invaded the town, the once popular maning sinanlag became a memory. It would be an excellent idea if this will be revived and packaged well. It will no doubt eclipse other famous brands of peanuts that fill the shelves of our supermarkets today.
Ang colo – bow!
The colo or breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) belongs to the mulberry family. It is a relative to the nangka or jackfruit and the camansi. It is said that the English Captain Bligh was carrying breadfruit seedlings in his ship the "Bounty" from the Pacific to the West Indies where it was planned to be used as slave food, when the famous mutiny erupted.
One can still see the tall colo trees with their big green leaves around the city but they are very seldom sold in the local markets unlike before. Kagay-anons would peel the colo, cut the fruit in wedges before it is boiled or deep fried. The taste varies -- some said that it is like a boiled potato while others swear that the flavor is similar to freshly baked bread. The cooked colo is best eaten with latik, the sweet sauce made from coconut milk and brown sugar. It is cooked over slow fire and continuously stirred till it thickens. The colo was a favorite local merienda item for many decades.
Once upon a time, in Julao-Julao (now Consolacion), a barrio by the Cagayan River, there abound century old cayam trees. The place was also known as "Cayam" and had a not so savory reputation since it was where many woman of ill-repute lived. It was an insult if one is asked if "taga Cayam ka ba?" However, these trees were much valued for it bore the cayam nuts, which was another popular merienda of Kagay-anons. The meaty cayam known today as the Tahitian walnut was usually extracted from its shell and was as big as a man's palm. It is boiled in water with a small amount of salt. Vendors placed the cooked cayam in nigos lined with banana leaves and usually sold them in the afternoons.
In the 1970s, all of the cayam trees in Consolacion became victims of infrastructure development. They were cut down to make way for the construction of a four lane highway that led to the approach of the Maharlika Bridge and no one had a taste of the delightful boiled cayam after that. Lately, I was told that there is an old cayam tree somewhere in Kauswagan. We hope to find this and with the help of our City Agriculturist, we can obtain numerous cayam seedlings so it will not be extinct in Cagayan.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 24, 2012.