Karen, my Blogging By Mail partner is from the Philippines. I just recieved her package of goodies, each of which represents Karen's home of Makati on the island of Luzon.
Pure Tablea: These little wafers are super-charged unprocessed chocolate made from pure cocoa beans. They make (very strong) hot cocoa and other chocolate-flavored recipes like Karen’s champorado, a breakfast porridge. Jon took one bite of a Tablea wafer, and the intense chocolate flavor almost knocked him on his keister.
A batidtor (chocolate beater): This wooden utensil looks like a big honey dripper, but it’s really a mixing and thickening tool for hot chocolate drinks.
Mango chips: These are like all-natural gummie bears that come right off the tree. Mangoes are the national fruit of the Phillipines, and Karen’s home island has orchards full of them.
Napkin rings: How funny is it that Jon and I were looking for napkin rings last weekend? (Karen, you must be on our wavelength!) I'm going to use these at our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner. These four napkin rings are made of coconut shells and are the shape of mangoes.
Boy Bowang: Spicy, salty snacks very much like the Corn Nuts you can find here. Karen sent three flavors: spicy garlic, roasted chicken, and hot chili garlic. Jon and I devoured these tasty niblets in seconds flat!
Durian candy: Durian, a Filipino delicacy, is known as one of the most pungent fruits in the world. Durian's funky smell and taste is infamous--even Andrew Zimmern, the guy who eats everything couldn't stomache it. According to Karen, “Filipinos either abhor it or ador it.” But these candies must be "durian light" (phew...thanks, Karen!). They had no discernable aroma, and the flavor was surprisingly mild. I'd say they started off tasting caramelly and ended up tasting beefy. I shared some with Pam and In-Young, but they didn't taste the beefiness as much as I did.
Piaya: These are savory sesame wafers filled with sweet fruit, and they are a specialty of the Negros Island. Karen tells me that these are traditionally filled with molasses.
Local maps: I sent New York City maps to Antonia, and Karen sent me a map of the Philippines. It might come in handy when we plan our next trip.
Abel-Iloko placemats: These colorful placemats, which can double as dish towels, are from a distinctive weave from the Ilocos region of the Philippines. These may end up on our Thanksgiving dinner table.
Thanks so much, Karen, for all of the interesting food and Filipino goodies! You put a ton of thought into your package, and really, really appreciate it. I feel like I've gone on a mini-vacation!
You can check out Karen’s blog, Bucaio at http:/bucaio.blogspot.com.