Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Memories of My Childhood (Pandesal, Spanish Bread, Pandecoco at Taho)

I woke up at 4am and could not sleep anymore, so I sat by the window and watched New York City come alive this first morning of August 2012. Suddenly, I hear my stomach grumble and find myself pining for my hometown, Baguio City, and get whisked away to memories of the Baguio of my childhood. I grab the ipad and start writing to immortalize these memories which I hope to share to my daughter when she grows up. 1. Freshly Baked Hot Pandesal, Spanish Bread and Pandecoco When I was about six years old, I remember waking up to the aroma of freshly baked bread. We used to live above a bakery. Mama would send me downstairs to buy hot pandesal (Filipino breakfast bread). I'd sneakily buy less than told and spend the rest of the centavos on a piece of Spanish Bread (sweet bread stick) and pan de coco (bread with sweet coconut filling) which I eat as I happily skip back home. Here in NYC, I get my pandesal fix from a pre-packed pandesal bag from Filipino stores. Sadly, heating them up in the oven toaster is nothing compared to watching the baker open his big oven, take out the pan of steaming hot pandesal and place them in a brown paper bag. Not even the pre-packed pandesal from Red Ribbon can compare to the sweet Baguio pandesal of my childhood. PS: Yes, it is common to send children on short errands to bakeries, sari-sari stores, etc. in the Philippines  2. Taho One of our neighbors used to sell taho, made of fresh soft tofu, arnibal (brown sugar and vanilla syrup), and pearl sago (like pearl tapioca). I can still remember the steam and aroma coming from the taho as soon as Manong Magtataho (taho vendor) opens the covers of his aluminum taho containers. I get amazed with how expertly he scoops up the excess water on top, and gives me my hot taho in the glass (recycled Nescafe container) I provide for him. I remember getting very excited to ask for dagdag (extra) of the arnibal and sago. Then I watch him walk away crying out "Tahooooo! Bili na kayo ng taho! (Come buy taho!)". I am amazed with his sheer strength as he balances over his shoulder the two aluminum buckets that hang from each end of a yoke, the larger one containing the the tofu base, and the smaller bucket with the arnibal and sago "pearls". Here in NYC, I have only had taho once which a friend got for me from Chinatown. The pearl sago was a missing ingredient, so it is nothing compared to the delectable steaming taho of my childhood. To be continued… (The bed summons me to continue my sleep. Hopefully my dream whisks me away to Baguio, my hometown of wonderful childhood and yummy memories :)