Friday, July 20, 2012

Catbalogan Tamalos

Do you know where and what that is? Oh well, yes, that would be Tamale (singular) or Tamales (plural) in Mexico and the rest of South America, or even elsewhere in the Philippines like Batangas and Laguna - if at all they still exist! This one in Catbalogan City is called Tamalos be it plural or singular! And it tastes differently good - there are no eggs, shrimps, chorizos nor chicken, just pork. But like everywhere else in this country that had been known to have Tamales, Tamalos too is a “vanishing act”! So lest this thing become ‘extinct’ or become just a taste bud memory, let me put it here and now… the things I wanna say about the lowly yet delectable Tamalos!

I was with a friend roaming Catbalogan when she suddenly asked the trike driver to make a detour and head instead to a place in Munoz District so she could pick her order of Tamalos, to be brought to another friend who was to bring those to that friend's children in Manila. Tamalos is considered by Catbaloganons a memorable local delicacy of/from their city. Needless to say, many who still know Tamalos, and are outside of Catbalogan, long to taste this hard to come by fare. And so we were at the house of Mana Vicky (Rodriguez?). I was allowed in, to have a quick look at how them Tamalos were being made. Oh boy did I get in the house hehe!

This was a quick fly-by as the trike was waiting, but just the same, I was able to get a few snaps of ‘Tamalos in the making’ and 'Tamalos ready to ship' – the photos you see in this article.

OMG wow! I did not imagine “production” of this delectable concoction takes so many separate stages you’d be discouraged to even attempt trying to whip up your own version of Tamalos in the house. I really thought its cooked as if you were just doing a chicken curry or a kare-kare. Its more than those! No wonder this venerable viand is slowly disappearing from the lunch tables of many a waray-waray family. Aw c’mon, I have never seen nor heard about this in Eastern or Northern Samar, and many folks in/from Western Samar take some few seconds thinking before they could recall what Tamalos is! Some have not even seen much less tasted one yet!

I caught the mother of the house de-skinning peanuts – and those would be ground to powdery consistency later. A man was busy packing and sealing into plastic bags already-cooked Tamalos that come out of the steamer wrapped in banana leaves. A youngish lady was busy flattening dough on pre-cut banana leaves, later to be the wrapper of more Tamalos packs. The ‘sauce’ or whatever it is called was already cooked in its delectable orange-colored splendor and waiting in a big kaldero. The meat, yep, fried pork and cut into bite chunks was waiting too! I did not quite get how things are pre-done nor how those ever get to be wrapped and sealed in a banana leaf and unto the steamer!

Bottom-line, I just know how to eat Tamalos… heat the pack still in its banana leaf wrap either by steaming, tossing it in the microwave, via a pan or by placing it in a still hot and recently cooked pot of rice. Then open the banana leaf which is ALWAYS messy, and let your fork and spoon dive and search hoping to get the best chunk of pork hehehe. I hate it when I get the part that has no chunk of fat haha! Good that my siblings don’t like that one so I get to “barter” when that happens! I swear, the “taba” tastes heavenly mixed with some “unod” and a hefty scoop of the sauce! Yumminess! THAT is what I am a master at. Eating Tamalos, I mean!

Anyway, I did not really imagine there is/was dough in my previous ocular and oral encounters with Tamalos. But there is, though thinly. And dough notwithstanding, I found it hard to imagine how they get to wrap the final concoction unto a banana leaf without dripping out, since the mixture seems to be more on the liquid consistency, save for the chunks of pork. But am not man of the kitchen... am just a man of the table... aka glutton hahaha! I do wonder as I did before, does the banana leaf as wrapper add flavor to the Tamalos? Yeah, I wonder! Can't eat be laid in something like the llnera of the leche flan so its not that messy? Ayan, nakialam nanaman hehehe!

Ei, speaking of the banana leaf... I remember many years ago, strips of the same leaf were the once used to tie the two ends of the wrapped Tamalos. Then came a time those were replaced by something like cotton-twine. But nowadays, they tie it with plastic straw... and it melts ugly when I heat the Tamalos bare in a pan. Am inclined to suggest they use wire so there's no melting while heating hehe. But oh, these days, when you buy Tamalos, they put the thing inside clear plastic bags that are heat-sealed. So there's no more danger of the sauce dripping even inside your backpack! Whew! But yes, the yellow plastic straw has to be replaced. With what, red plastic straw? whahehehehe! Why must these delectable waray-waray eatables be messy?! Remember binagol? its the same experience, you have to get your hands messy to enjoy the delicacy!

Ah, I learned that because of customer preferences, some Tamalos now come in the non-spicy or slightly-spicy versions (all were originally spicy). But, I warn you, whatever kind of Tamalos you have, watch the rice you eat it with. It can be a kaldero-full of carbs in your stomach and you will still be smiling while drinking coke! But what the heck, its not as if you have the luxury of devouring Tamalos every lunch time, right?! Its expensive in the first place and comes from far Catbalogan. So, if you get hold of one, eat people… EAT!!! Marrrasa!

Adios Tamalos! 'Til I see you again. Probably next month?! Yummy yum yum yum!


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  3. Indeed it's true. Our tamalos in Catbalogan is so very delicious especially when it is a bit chili hot. And yes of course the sauce with ground peanuts. That's what it makes tamalos so yummy...the sauce.