Hello my dear readers:
I am about to share to you a snack that brings back childhood memories. When a food evokes memories of the past, with vivid pictures in mind of how it used to be when grandparents, and uncles and aunts eat together in one table, it makes you feel young and better. This food that my classmates in high school batch 1976 showed me, is none other than the dinagtu. Dinagtu is a snack usually eaten between lunch and dinner. It is a merienda in our town of Infanta, Quezon. It can also be found in other Philippine regions.
It is a food prepared usually with family members or shared with friends. Moreover, because of the great effort and labor it requires, the element of love is if I may say present in its preparation.
Now here the dinagtu in pictures, it brings memories of the past. It was shown to us how it was prepared by our grandfathers and grandmothers, and handed down to our uncles, aunts and our parents in many occasions.
The sharing that goes with eating it is quite unique. Sometimes it is placed over banana leaves cut in squares. Holding the banana leaves on your palm with the dinagtu mixture over it, one can just eat it straight with gusto. So, yummy. It is a glimpse of our culture. How I missed dinagtu as a young child.
In our family, I remember it was either my aunt or my grandmother who was in charged of boiling the usually unripe or a cross between ripe and unripe banana which we call saba.
Saba is different from lakatan, or la tondan variety.
The boiled medium ripe saba is then peeled while still hot by my aunt, and dropped them one by one to a big wooden mortar and crushed with a big wooden pestle.
My two uncles (who are twins) alternately took turns to mash the banana into a smooth paste. Adding sugar in between rhythmical pounding, (brown sugar is usually preferred over its finer white version) they perspired because of the steam from the hot banana. It was a food prepared with labor of love.
(Photos by: Lani Monarquia Lapitan MCHS Batch 1976)
A little vanilla could render the blended (still hot and steaming) banana more deliciously sweet smelling as the aroma comes in contact with one’s nostrils, combined with margarine and shredded coconut as added bonus which naturally heightens and excites our salivary glands to full blast in anticipation. This part is extremely irresistible as it would tempt you or make you want to snatch a spoonful or two as the mixing takes place and it was a challenge to observe proper decorum. It was really mouth watering.
My aunt used to scold me as a little child, because I could not wait. As I sit nearby, I felt bad when she would not allow me to whip just a bit of the dinagtu, pushing my hand farther off the mortar. It was actually an expression of concern because my tiny hand might be included in the mixture. (Again, it was love). As a young child, I did not understand. I just want to get some. I was so menacingly persistent.
So when a dinagtu is prepared.. I usually equate it with love.