Friday, March 03, 2006

Kabukiran

Whenever I visit a new place, the first things I do are, first, visit the local parish church (Roman Catholic), to say a prayer of thanks for a safe journey. And second, go to the street corner bakery to peruse the various local breads and pastries on display. And in most probability buy some samples, especially those which look unfamiliar to me, to refresh me after a tiring trip.

Churches and local bakeries are, for me, the best representatives of the culture of a particular town. Of course the public market is the best one, but I delay my visit to the market for a time when I have the luxury of slow indulgence, to be punctuated by lazy stops at every stall and seated vendor. And so churches and bakeries provide the first, micro-glimpse of the town's life.

The general state of upkeep or disrepair of a town's church says much about the citizens' religious fervor, particular devotions, and a slice of the town's economic strata. Bakeries, on the other hand, are almost always the first purveyors of the region's delicacies. They provide an unpretentious introduction of the local food scene. Before an intensified, full-pledged paglamon in a local eatery or restaurant.

As this is a food blog, I'm making it a personal project to document the many breads, cookies, biscuits, cake slices and sweets I've bitten into so far. And I'm starting with this post, but with something which most Filipinos are familiar with - that roll of moist, soft bread filled with a pudding of days-old bakery left-overs, dyed bright red to make it look like jam sandwiched in, as another food blogger put it.

All around the country I see this, in many variations - the pudding filling in striking bright colors of violet (to make it look like ube), yellow (pineapple or langka), even green (pandan) and brown (monggo). But more commonly it is red, and generally it is sweet and a clever way of using up the unsold pieces of the bakery's monay, mamon, putok, and what have you. So it is cheap, cheaper than most pandesal, although some hoity-toity bakeshops in Manila sell some for brazen amounts.

It is a common enough bread, not remarkable in taste, no spectacular characteristics, and sits low (probably at the bottom) in the regard of bread connoisuers. What is special about this bread, though - intriguing enough, even funny - is its name, with many permutations in each area of the archipelago.

In Pangasinan it is called kabukiran, innocently enough, so wholesome. It being called by a Tagalog term is a bit suspicious to me, but perhaps the Pangasinan equivalent word, kaálugan, is not as romantic nor as evocative. Although why it should evoke images of idyllic ricefields is beyond me. Strange, for a lowly bread.

When this promdi, probinsyana, country girl of a bread, goes to Manila, she is called lipstick. Still innocent enough, only pertaining to an everyday beauty accessory. Although the connotations, particularly of red lipstick, are something else, and not entirely naive.

In Bicol she gives ligaya, happiness or joy. That should still be above suspicion, but then again, when Filipinos hear the word ligaya the first thing that comes to mind is Filipino bold star Rosanna Roces in that long, circuitous movie called Ligaya ang Itawag Mo Sa Kin (Just Call me Joy). And it doesn't refer to a simple nickname.

Not content with being happy, the bread tries to abandon nightly wanderings and gets a daytime job, and so she becomes a kalihim, the Tagalog term for a secretary. But in the literal sense, kalihim means one who keeps secrets, or one with whom secrets are shared. Which gets interesting, for of course, the bread has a secret of its own - that filling of sweetened old rolls.

Of course, kalihim, or secretary, has dubious connotations, as well, like keeping dirty secrets, or being accomplice to suspicious transactions. And in the ordinary sense, secretaries are generally regarded by the chief's wife and the office staff as malandi, a flirt, who toys with her boss. Many Filipino sitcoms and movies have scenes of secretaries sitting on their bosses' laps.

And then all pretensions are stripped off, exposing all secrets. The bread is now alembong, wanton, a coquette.

Which, when it comes down to it, is how girls wearing red lipsticks are referred to, really. Something lowly, used, dirty, dressed up with bright hues.

In the Visayan region it becomes worse, for we now encounter no more euphemisms, but are faced with the stark boldness of her name - burikat, which refers to scum of the streets, a kalapating mababa ang lipad, a GRO, girl for hire.

It's fascinating how this bread is made and eaten in the entire country but acquire different names, and yet keep the general vein of its shady reputation. A pandesal is a pandesal, from Batanes to Jolo, from bite-sized to humongous, be it salty or sweet. But the name-game of the lipstick bread is from kabukiran to burikat. Wholesome to downright immoral. Does it speak of our judgemental attitude as a nation, if at all?

Or maybe our penchant for being stereotypical, labeling and categorizing everything and everybody. Or maybe, just our ability to find humor in the smallest detail.

But wait, there's more. In Tondo, that veritable land of impudence and tactlessness, it is called, cheekily, pan de regla. Tainted. Stained. Because the center is red and the bread looks like a sanitary napkin. I rest my case.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
*Update: Other names for this bread in other areas include bellas (Marikina), pan de pula, floor wax, pan de red around Metro Manila, pam-pam (Bacolod), and balintawak in Pangasinan.


The Tinapay Series

34 comments:

sha said...

wow what a wonderful post Kai
I love this bread BURIKAT CEBUANA AKO EH.


i love food post with stories like this
history, name variations ah kai you and karen do this great stories... and more pls

Barbara said...

Interesting and fascinating Post Karen. We don't have anything so unusual in our bread culture.

ces said...

i agree kai..great post..my daughter loves this bread! i'm sure she'll still remember if i show her your post:)

Pinchette said...

Hi Kai,

I've been lurking and reading a lot of your posts because of the great stories behind each one of them..makes me smile and remember the Philippines...as i am now in Cambodia. Yes, in bicol, we call this bread "ligaya" or "maligaya". And i loved them from when i was a small girl.

Do you know how these are made, though? I have been trying to find the recipe but I have no luck finding one.

Looking forward to more of your wonderful posts.

Kai said...

Thanks for the favorable feedback and interest, Sha, Barbara, Ces, Pinchette. I am really intrigued by this bread.

Sorry, Pinchette, I haven't attempted to make this one yet, but will post about it once I try. Thanks for taking the time to de-lurk and leave a comment.

Toni said...

I love this post!!! I was hooked from the moment I saw the pic. This is one of my favorite snacks. I didn't know it was called such various names. No wonder my friends and I couldn't meet minds on this. Thanks for the very educational post! Keep 'em coming! :)

stef said...

thanks so much for posting this, kai! i've been wondering about "pan de regla" for a while and never realized it was this bread! we actually sold this in our sari-sari store while i was growing up, but i now forget what we called it, though "kalihim" sounds familiar.

Iska said...

i also like kalihim. we buy that for merienda... kelan kaya ulit ako makakatikim nun?

Kai said...

Haha, name-game, isn't it, Toni, Stef and Iska. I didn't know certified foodies are also enamored of this bread.

Iska, if only it could last long enough to travel to China, I'd gladly send you some. Kaya lang, baka pagdating dyan pampalaman na sya, haha.

Karen (the one who is not Kai) said...

I think yellow is supposed to be langka or pineapple. The brown is monggo. Next time I'm near a bakery in Pampanga I'll ask the name to add to your post, hehehe!

Kai said...

Great, Karen, I'll be adding it up! Thanks for the info on the colors!

Jen Tan said...

hello!!! I am so happy i found this blog about this bread! here in qc we call it pan de red or floor wax =) do you have a recipe on how to make this? hahahaha

Kai said...

Hi, Jen, now there is two of you asking for a recipe and I don't have one. I'll try, I'll try to ask a baker and will post about if once I'm successful.

Jules said...

hahahaha... good one karen...

now, if they'll just morph "pan de regla" with monay, you just might get "pan de rinereglang monay"

hahahaha... it's a wonder that the male anatomy was left unscathed in the bread-naming thing.

Kai said...

Hmm, Julsitos, you gave me an idea, when I do invent a unique kind of bread I'll remember to name it for a part of the male anatomy, haha!

Anonymous said...

I know the bread to be called "pan de regla". I just ate some a while ago.

Kabukiran doesn't sound so wholesome or innocent to me. It may be the "kabukiran" that is nireregla!

Kai said...

Hehe, maybe a lot of un-innocent things happen in the kabukiran, especially when the talahib are tall! ;-)

jov said...

Ohhhh I didn't know this bread had other names, I really just know it was pan de regla everywhere I go in Manila (also where I grew up, in Las Piñas). :)

♥u8mYpiNkco0kiEs♥ said...

i was able to buy this afternoon! i saw some being sold at PANADERIA PANTOJA and TINAPAYAN BAKESHOP (both bakeries have stalls in Market Market in Taguig)

Manang said...

Hi Kai,
I tried to come up with my own version of pan de pula and made reference to this blog post of yours for a good story of how its name evolved. One of my loyal readers said it is called pan de Nora in Basilan (dunno why).

Kai said...

Thanks for the additional info, Manang, and for the recipe.

grin-witch said...

great post, i was also thinking of writing something similar to this as it seems that people whom i have asked about this particular bread (or have seen me buying it) call it by different names. I also like your "ritual" of visiting local churches and bakeries every time you visit a new place, its something i do myself at times (i also try to go to the local market/palengke along with my mom and dad). Btw, to add my 2 centimos,hehe to this post, in one of the more famous/"older" bakeries here in Marikina, this famous bread goes by the name of "bellas" and it normally become available around 3 PM onwards...must be a tradition of some sorts too?!? :)

Hope you don't mind linking this particular entry of yours in my humble "blog"

Kai said...

Hi Grin-Witch, thanks for the link. Nice info about "bellas" in Marikina in your write up in your blog. Sorry I couldn't comment, don't have an account. But it sure is a funny little piece of bread, ain't it?

anna santos said...

hello,

i always buy pan de regla in panaderia de pantoja, the one across abs-cbn.

now i must call this bread kabukiran or kalihim in the name of wholesomeness.

thank you for your wonderful post.

Kai said...

Hello Anna, thanks for dropping by and leaving a note. What a coincidence, I bought the kalihim that I used in the photo at Panderia de Pantoja!

anna santos said...

hello again.

i have been a lurker for about two years.
i have an office mate from dagupan and during lunch break we bond via your blog. so now everytime she goes home to dagupan, there is a pedrito or jech's tasty for me. =)

Kai said...

Anna, so your friend confirms it's kabukiran in Pangasinan? ;-)

anna santos said...

unfortunately kai hindi sila magkakilala ng kabukiran. =(

Anonymous said...

hello,
we are eating pan de pula now in the office and according to another officemate from mangaldan, its called balintawak in their place.
two officemates - one from san pablo and the other one from lipa said its called kalihim.
we are having so much fun while eating pan-de-regla, oops, pan-de-pula, i mean.
=)

Kai said...

Hahaha that's funny. I'm coming across new names, I think I need to update the post. Balintawak, though, is also what I remember.

Sandra said...

I guess sa Visayas area talaga to pinaka-controversial. In Bacolod, this bread is also called "pam-pam", which is also a slang term for a prostitute...eeekk!!!

Kai said...

Hahahaha! Thanks, Sandra, for your contribution. LOL!

Kate Inay said...

Hi i just came across in your blog through a link from manang's recipe and i might add we call it LAHI in our place in cagayan valley.

Kai said...

Thanks, Kate Inay for sharing. May I know if the word LAHI means anything in Ibanag?