Something amazing just happened — I finally found the sugar-sprinkled, buttery soft cupcake I’ve been dreaming of since I was about 10 years old. A lady from Ilocos Sur who frequented the house to visit my mom always brought along huge cupcakes that I ate, but never bothered to ask her the name, until such a time that I was able to hit the heritage city on my own, but still no one would know what I was asking about. The Ilocano cuisine in the north differs from that in the south, like their bagnet is chicharon in Ilocos Norte and the Vigan empanada is not orange like the Batac and Laoag empanadas, and we don’t make mantecado bibingka. And the list goes on.
I chanced upon the banana leaf-lined cupcakes at Señorita Dulce along the National Highway in Bantay. They tasted so much like those almost forgotten babies. The only difference is the sprinkling of cheese in the new tortas. And they’re shrunken tortas. Similar to mamon, but not quite. I suppose the original recipe is a contribution from the Spanish colonizers. It’s the banana leaves that give the delicacy a remarkable characteristic and make it Pinoy.
There’s still so much to discover about the Ilocano cuisine.
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