This is the reason why no matter how I jog in the morning with my siblings, I never lose weight. Because after burning off what seemed like 100 calories (yes, I am that lazy), it will be replaced all over again at the ultimate morning destination: Tiya Tinay’s at the market place. Serving barako coffee, pancit and numerous rice cakes, you will be glad you woke up at 5:30 am and will never – ever- regret it. I am talking from experience, recalling those mornings I stood like a hungry wolf at the rice cake maker’s craft: The incomparable suman sa ibos.
A little tedious to make, I reckon, for the leaf wrappings is the tender blades of the coconut. Someone has to climb a coconut just to get this. Then these are shaped into the perfect cylinder, sealed at the bottom by the leaf spine (I don’t know the term for this- but this is where the walis ting- ting comes from). The sizes must be similar to each other to give the suman its uniformity.
Then sealed again, they are boiled afterwards. The rice softens. The leaves change in color. The flavors develop.
But the best part is - what else - the eating.
To eat: Like a lover, undress the delicacy, gently removing the strings, peeling away the covering. It offers itself for you.
When naked, let it lie down on the plate. Best served warm topped with cold mango scoops, and a hasty (read: really quickly- while hot!) glaze of raw, wild honey or coco jam. Or, of you’re a little impatient, just dip in sugar. Chew gently. Savor the sweet- salty- generous warmth inside your mouth. Forget the outside world. Forget your job. Live the moment. Then sweep with a hot barako coffee. Ahhh. Smile. Another round.
When satisfied and adrenaline goes back to normal, wipe the perspiration at your brow and, feeling sinful, you start to ask yourself: What the hell have I been doing? Is this really serious? This… this weight loss pursuit?
You stopped caring. Start feeling happy. Happy about the rice, the salt, the honey- you can almost taste the soul of the fields. Happy about the coconut- climber. The dedicated cook. Doesn’t matter when all worries seem to fly out the window, the moment you taste the incomparable…