Saturday, July 21, 2012

Cebu Puto and Sikwate

I chanced upon this little row of carinderias in the Foodland area of Banilad fairly some long months ago. Yep, just under the flyover near the corner with AS Fortuna that I thought was home to the usual barbecue and inasal (lechon) row that you might find anywhere. But late one night I discovered some stalls do also serve something else that got me quite curious. And that is this “puto and sikwate combo”.

From some distance, I saw a woman busy stirring something on a big pot with no less than a bamboo pole almost as tall as she is as her 'ladle'! I observed this activity was some kind of real physical effort on her part. Another night I saw her and husband scooping something colored white from that big pot unto a plastic container then spooning from there unto rectangular cuts of banana leaves. Yet another night I passed, I saw the husband arranging the already “wrapped” things unto a styropore box lined with banana leaves. That as he would from time to time pour some dark liquid from a thermos bottle unto cups that he served to quite a gathering of customers.

Enough of the observing! On this occasion, I went near to satisfy my curiosity.

So, I asked and learned that the dark liquid was sikwate (pronounced sick-wuh-teh) aka “tsokolate” in Tagalog aka “hot chocolate” in English! This of course is of the local variety of “tablea” therefore strong and quite potent (if I might call it that way). Hey, the brew even has an oily consistency that easily breaks into small circles when stirred – which you and I know is the healthy oil from cacao seeds. If only for us to know it is a pure natural brew from the powdered seeds without any additives nor industrial hi-tech processes! I sampled it of course, and I think it was too thick a consistency I needed to drink water after that. Maybe I was thinking ‘at least the sikwate would get diluted by the water inside my stomach hehe. Like Hello!

Anyway, the white thing is called puto. I was told it is the traditional partner of the sikwate. But not the common or ordinary puto we see in the metropolis! This one is made of cooked sticky rice very much like the usual suman. But its not that sweet. There is even a hint of salt (I think). Almost like the consistency of Japanese rice, actually. The way it is wrapped and served is very similar to the “latik” of Eastern Samar – though that one is partnered with a sweet syrup and not hot chocolate. But yes, this puto goes well with the sikwate.

Nice find. Nice late-night snack. Even after the beers!

But wait, I think this combo got me dizzy. I don’t know, I think I even palpitated a bit. It must have been the sikwate. Reason I said above, its quite potent (if I should call it that hehe)! Well, another proof that on earth, anything “bawal” is just so good to miss. I had two cups! Henceforth, I’ve been dropping by the area when in Cebu. But I never forget to bring my bottle of water to dilute the sikwate!

Go find them folks!

1 comment :

  1. the puto sikwate combo and even including manga is a great way to start the morning! when i was a kid my mom introduced me to this during simbang gabi. :D