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The best of Leyte cuisine in new book
Source: Inquirer
Author: Eufemia C. Estrada
Date: 1999-11-10
TOO many cooks spoil the broth, they say. Not so with the

cookbook ''Saru-Saro Kita! 100 Recipes of Leyte.''

A product of a province-wide search for traditional recipes of

the province of Leyte, ''Saru-Saro Kita!'' is one great way to

commemorate the Centennial of Philippine independence in


Thanks to Kris Regis of Tacloban, a friend of my nephew's, I

now have a copy of this book I read about when it was oh so

casually mentioned in another newspaper. It is worth the long

and oftentimes frustrating search, including calls to the

Tacloban Liaison Staff in UP Diliman only to be told they had

run out of copies.

Now, I have read many compilations of local cuisine, beautiful

collectable books, but have sometimes been disappointed by

inaccuracies in some recipes and background information.

''Saru-Saro Kita!'' promises authenticity, what with a field of

researchers trained in recipe retrieval, documentation and

verification behind it.

Although putting it together in book form was a recent

development, recipe retrieval had been started by the UP

Tacloban College Humanities II classes under ''Saru-Saro Kita!''

author Joyce Dorado Alegre way back in 1989.

Since 1991, these same classes had been submitting ''their family

and hometown favorites, and showcased them in food festival

projects.'' Field researchers had been working on them since


Such was the involvement of the whole province of Leyte that

the acknowledgment alone runs to four whole pages.

The 100 recipes featured come from 24 cities and towns of

Leyte, with 25 recipes coming from Tacloban City and 23 from

Jaro, Leyte.

Sergia Bagasan of Jaro and Tacloban alone contributed 15

recipes. They're followed by couple Mr. and Ms Francisco

Flandez of Abuyog and Jaro with 14, and the Humanities II

classes with eight.


These do not include the many more that, Alegre says, ''await

print beyond the Centennial count.''

Though the primary purpose of the book is ''to preserve the

cuisine created and developed by our ancestors,'' with English

translations meant primarily for Leyteqos abroad, the book has

universal appeal.

The recipes are arranged under four main divisions: ''Sura''

(viands--fish and seafood and meats); ''Utan'' (vegetables);

''Karan-on'' (delicacies); and ''Dinulsi'' (sweets).

Viands and vegetables are further classified according to

method of preparation: ginisa (sautied); hinatukan (with

coconut milk); inadobo; sinugba (broiled); kinilaw (raw,

''cooked'' with vinegar); linubiran (mixed with coconut);

pinaksiw; sinabaw (soup); tinu-om (wrapped in leaves and


Delicacies are cooked ` la hinatukan, hinudno (baked), iraid

(grated), linupak (pounded), pinirito (fried), puto, suman at iba


As to be expected, Leyteqos make use of local ingredients that

abound in the province like crabs, pako (fiddlehead fern),

strombus shells, bat (sea cucumber), guso (seaweeds), tamarind

leaves, batwan, tambis leaves and abihid, the last four being

souring agents.


Interesting to note too is the use of leaves, aside from banana

leaves, as wrapping for broiling like leaves of yellow ginger,

mango, cacao, marantha (arrowroot) and anahaw.

Recipes are in Waray or Cebuano, the major dialects in the

province, with, as mentioned earlier, English translations and a

glossary of local terms.

Measurements are given in local terms as by salmonahan (cans

of salmon) but also give the equivalent weight as one

salmonahan is 455 g. One ganta is 6 salmonahan, one can of

gabi is equivalent to 17 kg.

Baked food can make use of improvised ovens (big, empty

cans), or conventional ovens.

Remember how our rural folk turned to a wild yam for

sustenance at the height of El Niqo which turned out to be

poisonous? ''Saru-Saro Kita!'' tells how to detoxify this wild yam.

And more, like how to clean pig's intestines for dinuguan and

how to prepare a pig's carcass for roasting.

Thanks to the local Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the book saw

print. And it is no slipshod job either. ''Saru-Saro Kita!'' is

printed on quality paper, with a cover and artwork tastefully

done as befits the quality of the text.

Special mention should also be made of other entities involved

in the project: the UP Leyte-Samar Heritage Center; the

Philippine Centennial Movement, Leyte Chapter; the Provincial

Government of Leyte under Gov. Remedios L. Petilla; the

Saru-Saro Kita! Food Festival Committee under Leo Rama, chair

and the Runggiyan Social Development Foundation Inc.

Of the Leyte recipes in ''Saru-Saro Kita!,'' I have tasted and liked

their moron (a combination of chocolate and white rice), and the

binagol in coconut shells. Other Leyte delicacies I have tried

and liked, too, are their keseo (feta-like cheese) and pili mazapan,

the last two, unfortunately, are not in the book.

Next week, some sample recipes from the book, as a teaser.


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