Sultry afternoons are forever slick with the grease of fried meryenda crowding a bilao carried on the head of a tia, who sashayed along sidewalks accompanied by tireless, endless hollering that starts as a bass and ends in a clarinet.
I've had buchi, holed donuts, green bean lumpia, turon. And of course maruya, banana fritters dredged in sugar, eaten hot, the cooking oil from which it had recently been spluttering slowly tracing jaw and neck and the insides of my hand and arm.
Immense, rotund, odoriferous ripe jackfruits squat on pavements of market stalls in various stances - whole, slashed, sectioned, quartered, flayed and bagged - their pungent sweetness sitting heavily in the idle air.
I stand inert, breathing in the scent that paints pictures of kineler (ginataang bilo-bilo) and turon.
Turon, and maruya, don't seem to be popular in Cavite. I have yet to come across vendors carrying them, while native kakanin are present year-round. Not that I would buy, of course. There are always bunches of small saba on sale that boil into large thumbs of sweetness, and are particularly dulcet fried. What's more, the ratio of banana-to-langka in the innumerable turon I've eaten I've always found to be unfairly favorable to the saba.
So my home-made turon is pungently aromatic and sweet. And because a friend handed me a section of the sweetest tree-ripened langka from her backyard, I put langka in my maruya, too.
I hear that in the Bicol region maruya is made with rice flour, which makes the snack unbeatably crispy. So I use rice flour in my maruya, too, but not all the time, because a few hours would irreversibly harden them.
We make maruya as early as breakfast time, and we make a big batch so the kids, who are home the whole day now with the summer school break, can snack on them anytime they want. So it's imperative that the maruya remain softly chewy until sundown.
I like my maruya in a thick batter, cooking into discs that are like dense, chewy pancakes. Filled with slices of saba and strips of langka, creamy with a splash of buttermilk and some butter. When cooked, they are sprinkled with brown sugar for a touch of caramel sweetness. A smear of condensed milk brings in a new creamier level.