PASTIL was one of the first food items that I looked for when I finally got back to Davao City last month, after over six years of being away. Pastil is one of the most popular delicacies in Maguindanao and Cotabato, particularly at the public market area and at small roadside restaurants.
It is not that common in Davao City but I remembered a couple of food stalls sell it near Ecoland Bus terminal so off I went scouting for pastil. I found it at a very unlikely place—a bakery. It was on a plastic tray and there were only two pieces left. I bought one for P15 and off I went looking for my favorite partner for the pastil which is hard-boiled egg and soy sauce or better yet bagoong with a piece of sili.
Pastil is steamed rice wrapped in banana leaf and topped with shredded chicken, and one is enough for a regular meal. Maguindanaons serve pastil at any time of the day either as regular meal or snacks, so it is always available the whole day through.
Sometimes they use shredded fish but I like shredded chicken better, and you can make it extra special by adding slices of hard boiled eggs.
The banana leaf is wilted over hot embers to make it soft and pliant and then folded and sealed on both ends. It resembles suman but only it’s a bigger and flatter version.
It is considered as a budget combo meal especially by the Maguinadaons. If you travel from Davao to Cotabato City, this becomes commonly available in the towns of Matalam, Kabacan, Pikit, Midsayap, Pigcawayan and in Cotabato City.
If you are in non-Muslim areas, try looking for Halal restaurants and chances are pastil is available.
Pastil is best eaten with your hands but I use a spoon and fork. Pastil reminds me of my childhood days when our lunches were packed in banana leaves. It smells so nice, unlike the commercial smell that comes with the Tupperware and disposable lunchboxes people are using nowadays. I’m on my way to look for banana leaves. I’ve already shredded some chicken for a homemade pastil. Want to have some?
FOR six years, I’ve craved for puto maya and sikwate the way they cook and serve it at the public market in Bankerohan in Davao City, and the craving finally was satisfied one late night at the same place I used to have it before.
Puto Maya is one of the all-time Filipino favorite delicacies made from malagkit or sweet, sticky rice soaked before being cooked with thick coconut milk and mashed roots of ginger. My favorite sidewalk restaurant used to serve it wrapped in banana leaves but banana leaves are becoming a precious commodity in the city and they now serve it on a small plate. I always dip each forkful in a bit of white sugar. Puto maya is something that you can’t have too much of, just a bit every now and then.
And who doesn’t know what sikwate or tsokolate is? It is that thick, rich hot beverage from tablea which comes out best boiled in a batirol, a cast metal shaped like an urn with a wooden stirring rod which you roll in your palms as the sikwate is boiling to get that rich consistency.
I always loved to watch the food server stirring the metal continuously with a wooden batirol, but this time, it was a teenager who served us and he did not stir the tablea the way it was supposed to be. There were no solid bits anyway and it was thick, and besides, I haven’t had a cup for over six years so I was not complaining.
You do not put too much sugar into the drink or you will lose the natural bitterness of the tablea.A bit of warning—if it is your first time to try tsokolate, be careful because the drink looks so cold in the cup but if you sip it, you might end up with a burned tongue. When I was a kid, there was this story of a man who sipped on a cup of tsokolate, not thinking that it was so hot. He tried to bear the scorching of his mouth bravely and when he saw that no one was looking, he spitted out the tsokolate right on a plant outside. The plant immediately withered and died right before his eyes.I believed that story as a kid but of course I learned later that was just to emphasize how deceivingly hot a cup of tsokolate is but I never learned that lesson. I still burned my tongue each time I drink tsokolate, and last week was no exemption.