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Gastronomic Icons of Piat

COLUMN: Gastronomic Icons of Piat

By Benjie S. De Yro

What’s a visit to Our Lady of Piat without a pasalubong of Pawa or Sinabalu? It seems like these treats are so popular there are reported imitations of Pawa in recent years. Hohum; nothing beats an original, soft grounded glutinous rice with sweetened peanuts in buns, just enough for your taste buds and of course, your Big D.

You’re right, Pawa is a word of Chinese origin, meaning ‘to wrap.” It has been my wish to interview the original maker of Pawa in Piat or possibly do a production and marketing history but whosoever he or she is, I failed endlessly. It would be interesting to document the preparations on cam, with respect to some ‘secret ingredients’ while cooking.

Without biases, Pawa is considered as one of the most popular steamed snack foods in Cagayan and can be the best pasalubong ever. However, we sleuth on some imitations in Tuguegarao with no positive results. The suspects are those which color is darker, as opposed to Piat’s Pawa which is strikingly pure white. Among Pawa suspected imitations, the rice used is harder many times over and you think you are actually eating a ‘pacumbu’(thinly sliced lengthwise young coconuts cooked in heavy brown sugar and air-dried to attain its desired toughness.)

Don’t patronize these filibusters fronting as Piat’s.

Also, the moisture of the sandwiched ground peanut is higher. Interestingly, there are reports that the Pawa of Piat has a bigger cousin sold in Manila’s Binondo but I haven’t tried it yet. The truth is, according to Ramil De Los Reyes of Pinasmuna.com, there is also a Pawa in Cebu which they call masi. Sooner, our very own Pawa of Piat may yet improve its packaging, together with its nutritional facts so as to become even more competitive.

Piateños , like the rest of Filipinos, are sweet-toothed they also came up with another native delicacy cooked in bamboos, the Sinabalu. Shorter than the average Cagayan Sinabalu from Rizal, this one can be taken by those with high sugar level. The taste is less-sugary and like the Pawa, are available all year round even during tourism lean months. Pawa and Sinabalu are like horse and carriage in Piat when sold; they always go together.

A pilgrimage town for the last few decades, Piateños have already perfected the culture of pilgrimage tourism that it is always a pleasure to visit the municipality.

So next time, you visit Our Lady, make sure you bring these iconic rice cakes home. Let me take a bite now. northernforum.net

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