I was riding the traysikad along the road in Taluksangay, Zamboanga City when the sight of something wrapped in brown caught my attention. Suman, steamed rice cakes, or so I thought, but with a brown wrapping? It piqued my curiosity so much that I motioned the driver to bring me to the store where a man was selling it.
I’ve always been curious about native food and delicacies. Almost each place that I’ve been to, there’s always something different to offer. And Taluksangay is no exception.
I came near the store and asked the crippled man what it was he selling. Suman, budbud in Cebuano. But beautifully, and looks intricately wrapped. In most other places, the wrapping is just blanched banana leaves cut into squares or rectangles. But here, I tried unwrapping one. As it unravelled, I only realized that it was almost a whole young coconut leaf carefully folded and tied.
I took a bite and it was unsweetened but the aroma of coconut milk or gata was something familiar. Kainin mo with asukal. (Eat it with sugar), the vendor told me.
By this time, several Muslim children in the neighborhood of nipa houses along the water’s edge was already milling around me. Smiling and laughing but at the same time, curious to this large man inspecting a simple suman, unraveling its wrapping and taking pictures at the same time.
Just like what we used to do at home in Cebu, I dipped the suman in powdered white sugar. And it was delicious.