BIbingka ug uban pa
On a recent trip to the southern parishes of Cebu, my colleagues in the Archdiocesan Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church, were the happy recipients of the largesse of the hospitality of all the parish pastoral councils of Carcar, Sibonga, Argao, Dalaguete and Boljoon.
We were served the specialties of each town from breakfast to lunch all the way to the painit. All were of course the comfort food loved by Cebuanos. Chorizo and Inun-unan for breakfast in Carcar. Lunch in Argao was Tinuwa nga Isda, Utan Bisaya and Piniritong Manok.
Painit in Dalaguete consisted of Empanada, Bibingka, Budbod nga Linambiran and other sweets.
The Budbod Linambiran is made of equal parts plain cooked glutinous rice intertwined ( lambid) with glutinous rice laced with thick sikwate then rolled in banana leaf wrapping.
All the towns we visited had a common denominator. We were served their respective versions of Bibingka. The bibingkas were all made with the same ingredients. However, the one in Dalaguete was drenched in white latik. The one in Boljoon was obviously baked in a wood fired oven. The banana leaf linings of the molds were burnt at the edges , which happens when the fire is not consistent.
Bibingkas or rice cakes have been a feature of celebrations and rituals in Cebuano history. In the 16th century, these rice cakes were mentioned by Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of Ferdinand Magellan’s epic voyage to the East. Pigafetta writes that while in Zubu ( present day Cebu), he and the rest of the ships’ crew witnessed a ritual offering of a pig to the deities. Part of the preparations was the offering of rice cakes and millet rolled in banana leaf ( obviously this was Budbod Kabog).
To this day, planting and harvesting rituals in the mountain barangays still require the Bibingka as part of the offering to the spirits of the land.
It is gladdening to note that bibingkahan or places where these are made , proliferate in the whole province. Every tabo ( designated market day) in towns or barangays, is heralded by the smoke coming out of bibingka huts/stalls. You can see these stalls in the livestock tabo in Mantalongonn, Barili on Thursdays. In Catmon Daan, there is a long stretch of bibingka stalls along the National Highway. From Asturias to Balamban, one can buy Bibingkang Dawa ( bird seed is added to the batter) any day of the week now. You can buy the ones in Dalaguete in the corner leading to Mantalongon right after the bridge.
Here then is is how bibingka is made in Cebu on the happenstance that you would like to make it yourself.
To a kilo of rice, pounded in a mortar and pestle or ground by a machine, add coconut milk expressed from the grated meat of two mature coconuts to which a liter of water is added. Tubâ or coconut toddy, is added in this proportion: one glass of tubâ to a ganta of rice.
Pour in a cup or two of sugar according to your taste. The mixture is then allowed to rise for six to eight hours before cooking. It is the tubâ that is often substituted by the modern cook with yeast or worse, baking powder. But the taste cannot approximate the richness of tubâ which Cebuanos prefer.
Pour a ladleful of the mixture into each clay mold lined with smoked banana leaf cut to fit the mold. When the mixture starts to boil, sprinkle the top with grated coconut and place the cover of the mold – usually a piece of metal with some live coals on it. The bibingka is cooked after 3 minutes.
Let it cool before wrapping in banana leaves to keep it soft.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.