Wednesday, February 13, 2008

LP 24: Loco Over Coco

Anywhere you go in the Philippines, from the lengthy coastal areas surrounding the more than 7,000 islands comprising the archipelago, to the inland valleys and rolling plains, up to the rugged mountain ranges, solitary hills and volcanoes rising up to the heavens that rig the land, the coconut tree is a ubiquitous presence.

So much so that in any place in the country, from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi, coconuts - that is to say, all the various parts of the coconut - figure in one way or another in the regional/ethno-linguistic cuisine.

So you have the fiery ginataan (savory dishes cooked in coconut cream) that is the distinctive feature of Bicol dishes, or the sweetish and garlicky lumpiang ubod that is the specialty of the Bacolold-Silay area, to name a couple of the more commonly known coconut-themed regional fare. How about grandmas imbibing tuba in the early morning southern sunshine?

But coconuts really do feature in the day-to-day lives of most Filipinos, and mostly in the ordinary, taken-for-granted ways that we almost forget how very tightly our diets (at least, in the pure Filipino sense) are entertwined and based on this tropical palm. We even have various terms for the coconut fruit depending on its level of maturity.

We slake our thirst on the refreshing coconut water, blend it into a cocktail, ferment it into natural vinegar, or take the fermentation a little further to turn it into an alcoholic drink.

We eat the meat straight from the shell, or toast it, or spoon it or break it into strips to mix in salads, or grate it to add flavor to any rice concoction, or sweeten it into macapuno to eat it on its own or again mixed in a fancy dessert.

Even coconut fruits past their prime are valued – they provide the cream in which anything fancied can be cooked, be it a savory or sweet dish. We also have bukayo - sweetened coconut - in all forms, color, texture and style, depending on the region. And of course, mature coconuts provide the meat from which santana, or coconut oil, is expressed. Did you know that coconut oil may yet be the healthiest oil in the world?

And if you think I have run out of edible parts of the coconut, wait just yet. We eat the trunk, too. Well, actually, it’s the young shoots of the tree, called ubod.

Strictly speaking, we are now past the edible parts, since we really don’t eat the next one, but the intricately woven wrapper in which suman, patopat, or puso are encased and steamed come from strips upon strips of young coconut leaves.

And in the rural areas, dried coconut husks are the preferred pang-uling – charcoal – for a proper grill. The "husky" ones, though, are used as floor polisher - the manual...errrr...the one-where-you-use-legs kind - kuskos, bunot - giving a good workout for the body and a shiny wooden floor for the house.

On top of this, the coconut is not called the tree of life solely on the basis of the food it provides. Because it also sustains life, by providing its durable trunk – to stand as the foundation of a small nipa hut, or to elevate a batalan in which food is prepared for a meal, and afterwards where the kitchen and dinner utensils are washed.

Essential components that sustain a family, helping turn a house into a home.

And the left-over spines of the leaves are gathered and bound to become walis ting-ting – brooms – to sweep away the camachile or banana peelings, and other litter on the floor or on the lawn. This last has even been transformed into a symbol of unity for the country – inspired by the Filipino proverb Matibay ang walis, sapagkat nabibigkis. Roughly translated, though a bit far-fetched,“there is strength in unity,” but that is the essence of it.

And so it is with this sense of unity – by the food that transcends time and boundaries – that I invite all Filipino bloggers across the country and all around the globe, as well as other bloggers and writers who have an affinity, nay, a passion, for Filipino food, to join the Lasang Pinoy community in celebrating the fruit of life and the tree from which it springs, for the 24th edition of Lasang Pinoy.

  • Anytime during the month of February you can write about or feature a photo of anything that involves the coconut, cooked or uncooked, edible or inedible. You can write about a time-honored tradition, or create/invent a new one for the succeeding generations. You can write about the coconut’s presence in your life while growing up in the Philippines, or what it has meant for you living elsewhere. Maybe discuss how coconuts are treated in your host country, dwelling on its status as compared to how it is valued in the Philippines.

  • As an added feature, I would like to request bloggers to list at the end of your post any previous post/s, if any, involving the coconut. I'm starting it right here - you can find a list of my previous posts that included coconuts at the end of this announcement. I'm making it easier - if you find you cannot come up with anything on coconuts for this month (which I dare say is impossible!), you can submit the list of previous posts as your entry.

  • Non-bloggers are very much welcome – you can ask any of your favorite Pinoy blogger to host your article. Or you can email it to me at sweet(underscore)bucaio(at)yahoo(dot)com and I’ll be very glad to feature it, but just make sure to send it by February 22.

  • Bloggers can post their entries anytime during the month of February (which includes any post before this announcement), then notify me about your posts via an email to sweet(underscore)bucaio(at)yahoo(dot)com with the subject LP24. A round-up of all posts to close the event shall be posted in this blog by the first week of March.
Please use this icon, courtesy of Mang Mike, to mark your post/s, or display it on your sidebar for the month. Please also link this announcement so that we can have maximum participation.

So let’s start using those coconuts!

My Previous Posts That Dwelt on Coconuts

  • Using coconut meat
Bahay Pastulan's Buko Pie
Buko Salad

  • Using gata (coconut cream/milk)
Pinipig with Gata
Langka Suman
Inlubi with Toge
Baked Buchi
Adobo sa Gata
Patang Curry

  • Using coconut cookies
Langka Cheesecake


Anonymous said...

Hi Kai, congrats for hosting LP24 great theme, count me in I am now displaying the icon at the sidebar of Overseas Pinoy Cooking until the round up.

Kai said...

Thanks, Ut-man, hope we get to encourage a lot of bloggers to participate!

docemdy said...

Here's my entry Nuts Over Coco Pie.

Thanks for hosting!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I though about checking on the next LP theme today. Great theme, Kai! Perfect for the Bucaio blog :)

I think I already have an idea on what to make. Will let you know the link soon!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kai, thanks for letting me know about LP24. Indeed, it has been a while since I participated. I'll try my best to contribute.

Unknown said...

thanks for the invite to join LP. I'll try to come up with something about coconuts- pinaglihi ako sa buko, actually, and I love 'em, except the Thai ones available in HK aren't the same as the ones from Manila. Pls. let me know about LP 25 as well in case I don't get to submit anything to this one. :)

ragamuffin girl said...

thanks for the invite to join LP. I'll try to come up with something about coconuts- pinaglihi ako sa buko, actually, and I love 'em, except the Thai ones available in HK aren't the same as the ones from Manila. Pls. let me know about LP 25 as well in case I don't get to submit anything to this one. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the invite again. Submitted my official entry now. :-) Been meaning to join LP for a while Now, at least I can say that I've done it at last.

Babette said...

Hi Kai, thanks for the invite to LP24. I will definitely join this month's LP. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Kai, my good friend mentioned to me about LP24 and I'm interested to contribute my 2 cents know-how to concoct a dish with coconut ;-). Let me just commend you for this very informative post and blog.

Nini said...

Hi Kai! thanks for the invite again :)

Wyatt said...

Kai thanks for the invitation. I'm not so sure if I still have time to make a post for this theme. . . but I'll try. If not for this theme maybe for the next one.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kai, I love your essay on coconuts! I'll have coco post by tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

kalad, just about everything in bicol is cooked in gata. To share my favorites, dinuguang manok (also known as prehil) is blood of chicken mashed in grated coconut, squeezed and the native chicken stewed in it with green papaya, sinantol (grated unripe santol) in gata with smoked fish or dinailan, thats fermented caked shrimp to flavor it up, the insides of san fernando (a kind of yam) grated and then stuffed back into its shell and cooked in kakang gata, octopus cleaned up also stewed in gata just the way my lola cooks it, pako (fern to you) cooked in gata and sooo fresh shrimps, fish stewed in tomatoes and gata, pinakro--green saba chopped up and cooked in gata and salt and then sprinkled with sugar. Haay, i miss the good old lazy days of youth.

Anonymous said...

hi kai!
long time! hey congratualtions for this wonderful theme you're way am i going to miss this! coco!yum!!!count me in!

Anonymous said...

sana nakahabol. :)

docemdy said...

Wrote 2 more entries but I'm not sure if they qualify.

13 + 1 Ways to Enjoy Coconut

Anatomy of a Disaster

Anonymous said...

hi Kai, so sorry for the late posting. I hope you still can include my entries in your round up. I didn't get a chance to cook what I planned though :(

Here are my entries for LP:
Catfish in Coconut Milk
Swiss Chard in Coconut Milk - my version of Laing

Thanks again for hosting this month's LP, Kai!

mira said...

hi kai, sorry I missed LP24. please let me know if there's another one coming up. great round up!


ajay said...

Sorry missed this Kai. I rarely visit my food blog, you see :( It's not so active na kase. Hope to join the next food event. Cograts and cheers!

Anonymous said...

If there is ever a better reason to buy $1000 PAL ticket to our beloved homeland, it is to savor sweet young coconut! Bought 2 at the asian supermarket a few days ago and after hacking through the darn thick husk for a good 30 minutes, all I got was around half a cup of filmsy meat! Arrghh!

Delicious round-up by the way.

Lester G Cavestany said...

Sarap! Miss ko na kumain ng buko. Salamat sa post. Gamot para sa mga homesick na ofw hehe

God bless