Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Dumaguete Morning

It's fun to watch the city come to bloom early in the morning. Before the hubbub of traffic starts, before the folks head on to the daily grind, there's that moment when the city shakes off the cloak of night and stretches in preparation for the day ahead. It's a moment of serenity, and you can't get it quite like you can in a small town like Dumaguete.

Foregoing my usual explorations of country roads, I biked downtown to grab something to eat. Having been some weeks deprived of budbod, I headed for the palengke to try out a hitherto untried painitan.

There's a whole row of them in the Dumaguete public market, and outwardly they all look alike. More or less, they serve the same things, too: puto maya, budbod, pan de sal and a dash of sikwate. The difference, I suppose, is in the personalities managing them and in their variations in recipe.

Each stall is 2m by 6m square. Inside, they have a small formica-top counter where the proprietor takes your money and her assistants wrap the puto maya or boil the sikwate. Surrounding the counter are bar stools where the morning denizens wait for their orders bleary-eyed. Right outside might be a couple of wooden tables and benches.

I decided to take a quick pre-breakfast snack on the first stall on the lively and cheerful invitation of the old lady who ran the place. The budbod kabog wasn't nearly as creamy as my suki Veling's, but it was passable. I had some puto maya with a dash of sikwate, too. Good enough to fuel me for the trip home where real breakfast awaited.

My mission now is to try each and every one of these painitan stalls.

This is all part of the local color of small town living and one, I hope, which doesn't get edged out by the entry of the bigger fast food chains.