Meal enders and hors d’oeuvres, respectively
Himagas and pamutat are words hardly used by today’s youth, who have little or no idea what they mean.
Loosely translated as dessert, himagas and pamutat were always present on my grandparents’ dining table in the form of fruits—fresh and preserved. They were the perfect way to end a meal.
The most common and convenient himagas were ripe bananas, followed by fresh mangoes, and pineapple. When fresh fruit was not in season, dessert took the form of preserves lovingly put up in glass jars during grandma’s spare time. Each fruit and root crop required a specific method.
Using sugar as natural preservatives, our family always stocked up on sweetened saba bananas, ripe mango, langka, guavas, and root crops such as camote and cassava. Sometimes, we were lucky enough to have big ripe guavas with pink flesh, which we spooned over pancakes. Guavas were preserved whole minus the seeds.
The most common and convenient himagas were ripe bananas, followed by fresh mangoes, and pineapple.
SAGING SO GOOD
The saba variety of bananas were always served cooked in sugar. When ripe, peeled saba bananas were served cooked whole by itself or with milk and shaved ice. Half-ripe saba bananas were sliced crosswise into half-inch discs and cooked in syrup. This was usually done in summer when sliced bananas in syrup were used also for halo-halo.
JACKFRUIT TWO WAYS
Only seasonally available, langka appeared at the end of the meal either fresh or bottled in syrup. It is so popular that everyone takes a bite or two during preparation and very little is left to cook.
Kamoteng kahoy (cassava), often merely boiled, was cooked in syrup very carefully to prevent disintegrating. It required several rinsings after peeling. A more complicated dessert dish involved grated cassava, coconut milk, and sugar to produce cassava cake.
Two types were served fresh: watermelon and honey dew. One of our neighbors even saved watermelon rind, which she meticulously converted into candied watermelon peel following a recipe that originally called for hairy melon (kondol). Honeydew melon was also served during and at the end of the meal as a beverage.
SAMPALOK BEYOND SINIGANG
Ripe tamarind appeared in many guises. Small brown balls of sugar-encrusted ripe tamarind pulp were treated almost like candy. Some tamarind balls were seedless while others contained large inedible black seeds. Another way to preserve tamarind was in the form of a very thick syrup generally called tamarindo, which took hours of non-stop stirring over a low fire. The tamarindo syrup also made a refreshing old drink when added to iced water.
Garbanzos, white beans, and mongo in syrup served many purposes. They were either presented as is or topped with shaved ice and milk.