I don’t know about you or where you live, but here in Chapel Hill, typical and traditional Filipino foods are hard to come by. I have learned to cook and make a few dishes and desserts over the years, and there are some that we can purchase from the Asian stores frozen or in an easy-mix bake carton. Still, it’s different if you get it fresh off the kiosks or restaurants back home. It was especially hard while I was pregnant and craving for authentic Filipino foods and my uber sensitive taste buds could tell the difference, no matter how close we could get to the real thing here. In any case my palette and I have learned to adapt and I don’t necessarily always crave or look for them anymore. They have become treats and things we look forward to on the occasions when we do get to fly home.
Sam has learned to appreciate Filipino dishes and pastries as well. She is comfortable having a plate of inihaw or sinigang as a meal, and also asks for Rosquillos (A specific type of cookie) or polvoron for her snacks. Lately, she’s been asking for this particular brioche made with butter and cheese, called Ensaymadas (Yes, a lot of the names and origins are Spanish in nature, but what do you expect from a country that was colonized for over 300 years?). Sam has even coined her own term for it: ensayMagas (Maga is a monicker for what she calls my mom. I guess she associates the two).
Ensaymadas are a big deal in our country, and you can eat and find them pretty much everywhere. They are best eaten fresh and fluffy — like bread and donuts, they taste different when thawed or when they are days old. I have not found an easy-bake mix for this or a place where I can get a fresh batch anywhere near here, and this is one dish I don’t aspire to learn to make. Ironically though it is one thing my husband and my daughter can eat mouthfuls of in one sitting (Sam can eat 1.5 in one sitting; my husband 2. And then can have it for more than one meal). In any case, we get our share of this yumminess whenever we expect people to fly back here from Manila, and they can accommodate a box of 6 or 12 pieces. Everyone gets their fluffy, buttery, cheesy fill, and we learn to put it out of our heads and tongues until the next round of visitors arrive. Once in a while, Sam will ask for an ensaymada out of the blue, but because we don’t have any on hand, then she will happily settle for Challah bread (which by the way, has become a staple in our homes as well).
Yet occasionally – a nice little yellow-golden box will miraculously — and unexpectedly — find its way over. 😉
And voila. Even for just one meal, Sam (and my husband no doubt), are in Mary Grace ensaymada heaven.
Oh who am I kidding. I’m going to save some for me too!
Mary Grace is a yummy brand of baked pastries and goodies owned by the family of a dear friend. If you find yourselves in Manila for whatever reason, look for their kiosks or their restaurants and try their food. If I’m not mistaken, their bestsellers are the ensaymadas and the cheese rolls (or at least, those are sure-fire family favorites!).