Sweet Summer Dreams
Summer is in full swing. The heat is making it unbearable to stand for a long time in the kitchen. We want to make something that’s quick so we can get away from the stove as quickly as possible. If only we could have a glimpse of the greenery, things would certainly be much better. We could enjoy the cooling shade of the trees; eat with bare hands chicken adobo niftily wrapped in banana leaf with slices of tomatoes. We’d share stories while relishing sweet yellow mangoes. A sip of buko juice and we’d be lulled to a sweet siesta by the branches of leaves swaying to the music of the wind. Or we could indulge in some ube and fruit delights in Benguet or further up north, in Sagada perhaps, where we could wear sweaters and scarves, and have blissful coffee with a panoramic view of mountains and pine trees. We could be very far away from worries and work. Then, there’s a loud cry of a babe and an aroma of fried fish almost burnt.
Tinikling dance in the mango season. Watercolor by Gerson Flores
One fine summer, around this time of May, we enjoyed a 4-5 hour drive (including heavy traffic) to Lucban, Quezon to join the Pahiyas festivities. It was the annual fiesta in thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, honoring the patron saint of the farming town, San Isidro Labrador. Each house was well adorned with the colorful leaf-shaped hanging decors intricately made from rice. Everybody was welcomed with treats to eat inside the house or take away. There were no strangers. We paraded the streets, went in and out of the houses feeling like very important guests, when in fact we were just a few of the hundreds of local tourists walking in and around the small town. There was a vendor of savory pansit habhab and barbecue on every street corner. It was our first time to experience such a grand fiesta. It was only in pictures and books that we knew of this traditional one-of-a-kind celebration. We wonder how things are now in Lucban. Perhaps there are still sweet rice cakes of different shapes, even just for the family, or maybe a bit more to give to hungry neighbors.
The month of May means a simple adventure for the small family in Bulacan. Each year they rent a car to travel to Antipolo where the feast of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage is celebrated. The hour-long mass feels like an eternity, standing with the crowd that packs the shrine. What a relief when the mass ends, for they finally can go to the churchyard, filled with vendors of suman, kasuy, and many other sweetmeats and delicacies. On their way out of Antipolo, they stop by the roadside to savor a quick picnic of tapa and boiled eggs. They travel home nibbling on roasted cashew nuts and planning their next pilgrimage.
We’d love to hear about your food stories, no matter where you are in the world. Share them with us and use the hashtag #mgakuwentongpagkain.