Turon: The Sweeter Side of Lumpia

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When we were little, my sisters and I simply called turon “banana lumpia”, which is what turon is, at the end of the day.

My grandparents had a house on the top of a hill, that, when I was little seemed like a grand estate. I have bursts of memories at that house. One of them is seeing my grandmother laboring over the popping oil, placing bronzed turons in perfect rows onto paper towels. She used the scissor-tongs with plastic handles to lift them from the oil and onto the towels to harden.

“Banana lumpia’s ready!” we’d hear. The turon never had a chance to cool. Under the threat of a burnt tongue we’d cautiously snap the ends off with our teeth and blow into the crevice we’d created to cool the inside. The banana and jackfruit hit next, and at the end we’d lick our fingers to savor the sticky, sugared coating.

Whenever we saw the bunches of plantains we knew that was our dining fate. Even now, I have an insatiable sweet tooth, and I think partly that is due to my family’s obsession with desserts (that, and my grandmother telling me where my mom hid the candy when she left the house.) She was a really cool grandma.

Whenever I see turon in the stores, I always consider the purchase. Mostly for the fact of their universal taste — they almost always taste exactly the same. These turon I grabbed at Jomin’s Cafe Bake Shop in Sunnyvale, California. Along with sweet breads and desserts, Jomin’s also cooks silog (meat, garlic fried rice, egg) on a daily basis.

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As you can see, there’s a mini-Filipino town in this shopping center. I was delighted to see the yellow suns.

The decor in Jomin’s was sparse, but it felt like tapping into a true “hole-in the-wall” experience. That’s how it often feels when I go to a Filipino restaurant. It seems veiled; underground and mystical.

There were some sweet breads and ensaymada (which sadly, I did not pick up this time). I decided on the turon because that looked the most fresh. For the most part though it seemed like their shelves had been picked clean for the weekend. The staff was friendly and collectively watched a Filipino soap opera on TV. Not a huge sense of urgency…but inside, that made me happy.

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The turon was lip-smacking sweet, crisp, and familiar. I’ll have to go back and try some more things. But if they got me with this, I’m hopeful that our taste buds are aligned. Always a good feeling when someone just “gets” what taste good — love feeling that foodie ‘hit’.

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