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.