Monday, October 10, 2011

Savoring the Sapin –sapin


What makes people so passionate about food? There are so many components comprised of a complexity of ingredients such as poultry, meats, seafood, vegetables and spices in making a single dish. Depending on which part of the world we come from, because of the type of soil and climate, each country produces their own unique cuisine. This eventually contributes in defining a people’s culture. Having the opportunity to acquaint ourselves with other country’s delicacies is the most practical way to learn about a country and its people and also get to enjoy the various tastes and smells of the food which gives us a broader understanding of how we live through how we eat.

Eating brings families and friends closer together and in a broader sense brings the many cultures together. It makes the world seem not as big and scary, but rather a familiar place we call home.

The Filipinos take pride in the multi-faceted inheritance of their culture from various foreign settlers who introduced to the country during the spice trade many ways to prepare and preserve food. We adapted these different techniques, added distinct qualities and made it our own. Thinking about the history and evolution on Philippine cuisine, this reminds me of a particular dessert called sapin-sapin. The sapin-sapin originated from the northern part of the country, the province of Abra. It is a mountainous region with rugged terrains ideal for trekkers who delight in the thought of roughing it. The people of Abra are mostly descended from Ilokanos from the Tingguran tribe who are famous for their woven baskets and blankets and, of course, the sapin-sapin.

Sapin-sapin is made with glutinous rice and coconut. It is usually served as a dessert, but because it has a tendency to be filling, it’s often eaten for brunch or merienda (afternoon snack). It’s a simple dish comprised of rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, water and coloring. To add texture to the dish, coconut flakes are sprinkled on top. This is painstakingly made by soaking rice flour overnight in water and then ground into a paste with coconut milk, sugar and sometimes yams or yam four. What makes it intriguing and special is how it’s prepared. The glutinous rice is colored and layered making it a festive dessert. The first layer is colored in purple (usually the bottom), the middle is a golden yellow resembling egg yolks and the top is white. Each layer is steamed before another layer is added. Delicious and beautiful.

The sapin-sapin is a perfect example to cite the facets of a particular culture. However complex it is, it still has that basic end result, it satisfies the hunger and allows us to get a glimpse of the kind of people the Filipinos are.

1 Response to Savoring the Sapin –sapin

May 19, 2014 at 6:11 PM

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