The sound of women chatting from the small structure selling food and trinkets got my attention as we were exploring the century old balete tree (banyan tree, Ficus sp.) which is a popular tourist spot in Maria Aurora in the province of Aurora. But to my surprise and delight, these women were preparing a native delicacy, suman, rice cakes wrapped longitudinally with steamed young coconut leaves.
Suman is an ubiquitous native delicacy that is found in almost all provinces in the Philippines, and perhaps, in other Asian countries as well. Most of these are sticky rice cooked in coconut milk, sometimes sweetened, sometimes not. These are then wrapped in blanched banana leaves, rolled longitudinally and folded or tied at both ends. But in other localities, like this one and another one in Taluksangay, Zamboanga City, it uses young coconut leaves for the wrapping.
In between chatting, the women are busy preparing the suman from scratch to finished product which they then sell at P60 per bunch. For the first timer, unwrapping the suman is an experience in itself, loosening the tie that wraps around the body, removing the leaf handle then unwrapping the rice cake. A bite into the slightly sweetened sticky rice is something to enjoy. For us locals, it usually reminds us of home, of family and traditions.