Greenpeace Southeast Asia

RICE: The real meal deal by Chuck Baclagon
March 16, 2007, 11:54 am
Filed under: 1, Say no to genetic engineering | Tags: , ,

I was sick with the flu when I was 15, and the only thing that I wanted was Champorado (chocolate flavored rice porridge). My Nanay (mother), frantic with me already for being sick, was able to whip up champorado after 10 minutes. I was a little bit amazed that she was able to cook it in such a short time, despite the hazy and fuzzy state of my brain. But I was so hungry that I finished it in 5 minutes flat. It only dawned on me afterwards that she didn’t use the malagkit kind. Madaya! My nanay had used the ordinary rice and not the ‘malagkit’ (sticky rice).

Funny, how in my sick state the only thing I could think of eating was rice.
Ask around and most will tell you how a meal won’t be complete without rice.
A meal is never a meal without rice in the Filipino diet.
Friends, who go abroad, whenever I would quiz them on what they ate, usually tell me meals would consist of bread, soup and fruit, especially when they are in European countries. Some could be as frugal as just cheese, bread and/or fruit.
I would cringe whenever I would hear this. To me tanghalian (lunch) and hapunan (dinner) is never complete without rice. Not a day passes that I would forego eating rice.
There is something about that hot and fragrant spoonful of rice that gives me that sense of comfort and satisfaction.

In the provinces, rice is a very precious commodity. Ok lang na walang ulam, basta may pera na pangbili ng bigas. Remember the saying “Magdildil na lang ng asin pang ulam sa kanin”?
When coffee was not readily available, specially in the far flung areas, coffee was also made from roasting (ibubusa) uncooked rice till it was black.
And when there was left over, the rice was dried and made its way as ‘kaning baboy’ for the family pet. One could not afford to let even a grain of rice go to waste.

Consider the versatility of rice. Rice is not just that essential partner to the ulam (viand), it also comes into the Filipino diet as suman, bibingka, kutsinta, palitaw, sapin-sapin, paella, lugaw, arroz caldo, champorado, biko, puto bong-bong, to name a few.
My lolo used to fry puting suman till the outside was fried to a crisp, slather on butter or margarine then sprinkle loads of sugar on top. It was the ultimate comfort and bonding food during those lazy Saturday afternoons at their house.
Remember how when we craved for rice puffs for breakfast, those left over rice from the previous night was dried and then eaten with milk and sugar? It was the answer to the imported corn flakes. Coffee was also made from roasting (ibubusa) uncooked rice till it was black.

Ever heard of burong kanin (fermented rice and fish)? This is a specialty from Pampanga that gourmands swear taste so good despite the offensive smell. I have tasted the ‘sanitized’ version and it really tastes good.

So after having satisfied your hunger pangs with rice and your sweet tooth with rice delicacies, why not finish off your meal with some Tapuy?
Tapuy is made from…what else?

Mary Ann Mayo

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