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
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
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
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.