Saturday, 1 January 2011

First Posting on 1.1.11, Power of Palitaw

"When poets...write about food it is usually celebratory.
Food as the whole thing-in-itself, but also the thoughtful
preparation of meals, the seving of meals, meals commonly
shared: a sense of the sacred in the profane."
Joyce Carol Oates

This is not a poet writing on food but just posting what
I had for brunch on the first day of the new year. I had
some pieces of delicious Palitaw. To give an authoritative
definition of what palitaw is and how to do it, Wiki described it as "a small, flat, sweet rice cake eaten in the Philippines. They are made from malagkit (sticky rice) washed, soaked, and then ground. Scoops of the batter are dropped into boiling water where they float to the surface as flat discs - an indication that they're done. When served, the flat discs are dipped in grated coconut, and presented with a separate dip made of sugar and toasted sesame seeds. Sounds easy you might think.
Palitaw is a common delicacy in the Philippines but it gets a special
status when prepared, cooked and eaten on the first day of a new year.
Like other round objects to wear, decorate and eat to celebrate the
coming of a new year, Palitaw is a symbol for luck. The word litaw
means to float, to appear and it conveys a meaning of getting
above, getting lighter: above problems especially financial worries
as many people believe or would love to believe.
My hubby said that I might be very unpredictable in many ways
and things but preparing palitaw on the eve of a new year becomes
a part of a sacred ritual.
Many years of experiencing how to make it have given me palitaw
of different sizes and textures:sometimes too thin that they
would melt upon hitting the boiling water or too thick they
would not float above which would not serve the meaning of
having them in the first place. My fingers would be sticky with
the batter and dusting them with the flour would send hubby into
a violent fit if he would actually see me in action.
I could claim now that I could do palitaw, delicious ones, and one
could eat my own version and feel that they bring good omen for
the new year. Proof? Hubby eats them now voluntarily,
commenting that my Palitaw get softer, tastier and the sesame
with sugar toppings do taste like sesame and not burnt residue.
Prosit! Cheers to the New Year!

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