Native delicacies

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


DURING the nine-day dawn masses, the after-mass fare sold as early morning repast are popular native kitchen delights. How this came about should be a good subject for research. As far as I can remember, there were always the puto maya, sikwati, and bibingka awaiting church-goers in the churchyard.

In fact, this thing about the hot chocolate has a tale that tells of our ancient ways.

I do not know how this story came to be told across the years, but it was said that our parish priest, courteous as he was to our parishioners, had a way of telling their convent staff the social level of their visitors.

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And so they would know the kind of social reception they may extend to the visitors through the “thickness” of the chocolate they would serve.

It was my late mother, a public school teacher, from whom I first heard the story told. It seemed that when their parish priest was visited by parishioners, the good Padre would tell the staff to offer merienda to their visitor or visitors, instructing them to prepare either tsokolate A or tsokolate E.

So, convent aides would know whether the visitors deserve a thin or thick sikwate, A being aguado or so-so mixture, and E as espeso or thick one.

Thus, even early in our development as a civilized people, we were already introduced to a measure of social snobbery, our mentors being the learned minions of our faith.

But even with such delicate and selective taste, the Spanish palate was not able to disavow the native delicacies our supposedly “uncultured” taste was able to produce, penetrating and really overcoming the “imported” Spanish delicacies.

I am not sure, though, that our native delights have not also received measures of foreign influence. I think some of our native delicacies have been unable to resist some sort of infiltration, too, across the years.

But I am sure, too, that majority of our native delicacies have been able to resist the cultural intrusion into their domain in a big way. For one, I can say with conviction that the taste of our puto maya, budbud, biko, and calamay have not changed in taste despite the decades that have gone by.

These dishes should be a source of deep pride of our people for the success these food have been able attain before all the other foreign dishes that have been brought to bear upon our native ones.

Yesterday, I saw on television a display of our own delicacies in churchyards, with churchgoers tackling them with utter gusto despite the presence nearby of chain eateries selling modern-day foreign snacks.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 21, 2011.

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