Independence Day activity, 2017

So. It was the Philippines’ Independence Day yesterday. And. My friends and I engaged in some traditional Filipino past time of yesteryears. But first, a confession: I’m a city girl born and bred. That means my mother bought Filipino kakanin from a vendor in the palengke while we were growing up. My friends, however, had memories of their mothers preparing and steaming suman, otherwise known as Filipino rice cake in banana leaves. Thus, when the hankering becomes strong, we gather together and make it.

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My heart sank when I beheld this pile of banana leaves. Unlike in the Philippines, which receive rain, banana leaves here must be washed before it can be used as rice cake wraps.

It took a long time for the banana leaves to be singed and washed before we got to even draining coconut milk from the freshly grated coconuts we’d bought earlier. Thus, that it was past 4 pm when I finally arrived home, anxious to show the spoils of our fellowship to the hubby (who was due to leave at 5 pm).

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Don’t even try to make rice cakes with powdered coconut milk! Fresh is the only way to go. It took us three rounds of squeezing the grated flesh from five coconuts to get enough coconut milk for approximately five kilos of glutinous rice. 

After he left, I steamed the suman then hied off to bed, not bothering to remind the children that Philippines Independence Day equates to my independence from the kitchen and feeding them. The eldest complained about eating the sinaing na isda for the umpteenth time (it’s only now in my late forties that I finally get why it was a favorite of my mother’s during my teenage years). It being past iftar, I told him to order food.

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It takes Wonder Woman strength to mix glutinous rice as it is being cooked. My friend and I did not take turns – we both whisked and tossed at the same time.

And was reminded of the benefits of not having fast food in a desert town during their growing up period. “Subway is too expensive, a sandwich costs more than Dh20!

Me, lying in bed still. “Just order!

“Okay, I’ve ordered noodles.”

Someone, however, was in seventh heaven over the fresh taste of our suman. “Mom, these are the best ever!” my daughter exclaimed even before she finished her fourth.

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Needless to say, I learned a lot. It starts with a ball of hot, cooked, glutinous rice which you squash using the ends or sides of the banana leaves.

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Hmmm. Can I just mention that today, for breakfast, I burned the fried rice?

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