ASK Cebuanos what is good to pair off with their favorite barbecue or lechon and you’ll likely get the same answer—puso. And the better way to indulge in this special rice is by kinamot or eating with your bare hands.
Puso used to be a ritual object of early Cebuanos, who were animists or people who venerate nature. It was offered to please the gods or spirits for good harvests; cure for sickness; as well as to celebrate occasions like weddings, birthdays, planting, and even burials. At the coming of the Spaniards, it became an indelible aspect of Cebu’s rice dish culture. Over time, it has transformed itself into a uniquely Cebuano cultural icon, just as popular as the Magellan’s Cross and the mango.
Puso is derived from a Visayan term referring to bunga or flower. It is made of lukay or coconut fronds woven into simple and complex designs by a manlala or puso weaver.
Although popular in Cebuano social life, from barbecue stands in street corners to grills and restaurants, only a few know the intricate and unique art of making a puso.
And we can only wonder at how many (or few) realize that every puso meal is a heritage experience.
Of course, it takes more than eating a puso to keep its cultural value alive.
Cebuanos, especially the younger generation, should be taught or find a way to learn how to weave a puso pouch and cook the rice in it, lest the knowledge slowly fade with modernity. No one wants to lose track of something that has strengthened the Cebuano identity.
On May 31, the seventh run of Gabii sa Kabilin, visitors will find puso in street stalls and food fares. Eat and take pride in this age-old indigenous craftsmanship.
Here is lutongpinoy.ph’s simple guide to puso-making: Have on hand a couple of young coconut leaves and uncooked rice.
Procedure: Begin weaving the puso basket using the young coconut leaves (refer to the photo). Fill the basket with raw, dry, unwashed rice, about one-third full. Make as many puso as needed. Tie all the puso together in a bundle and immerse in a large pot of boiling water. Boil for 30 minutes.
Slice puso in half and serve. For more information about Gabii sa Kabilin, you may visit facebook.com/rafi.org.ph or follow @rafiorgph on Twitter. To reserve your tickets, you may also visit rafi.org.ph/event/2013-gsk-reserve. (PR)