My memories of Christmas past, aside from the hope of always completing Misa de Gallo was all about food. No, They were not your usual fusion cuisine that we get to see in specialty restaurants nowadays but they were all simple fare that our parents prepared for the occasion. Back in the province when I was in grade school, having Pancit Bihon, Suman, and Binongey for Noche Buena was considered a feast for us.
One such famous delicacy from our province in Pangasinan which is also served during Christmas is Tupig, made from glutinous rice, mixed with sugar and grated young coconut wrapped in banana leaves then baked over charcoal. I tell you, it’s one of the best there is in our place. These rice cake preparations are both associated with Christmas and New Year.
We call this Binongey, it’s also made of glutinous rice or malagkit and mixed with coconut cream then cooked in cut bamboo tubes over live coals. It tastes like Suman but has that distinct flavor which makes it more yummy and delicious.
Some non-Pangasinense (Pangasinense being the natives of the place) confuses the Suman we have there with the Tupig, we use the same ingredient like the glutinous rice and coconut cream but the Suman is wrapped in these home-made young coconut leaves unlike the other version in some provinces where they use banana leaves.
I do miss all these. Here in the city, there are always the proverbial ham, roast chicken, Lechon, fruit salad, pasta dishes and other recipes that you would dream of preparing but nothing could bring back that smile on my face when I see these sweet delicacies placed on the dining table. It reminds me of Christmas past, back when life was simple.