My mother and Maruya

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“That’s maruya. I used to sell that.”

My mother pointed through the glass display at a Filipino bakeshop.

“That was, how old am I now?” she gaffed, “I was 7. I’m 50 now. I don’t remember the recipe. I just remember it is smashed banana with a little bit of flour. Your great grandmother used to make it,” her eyes looked elsewhere.

“From what I remember, it’s a different kind of banana. It’s a saba banana. You smashed it. And I think you would put a little bit of sugar and flour to make it crunch on the outside, then you fry it on top of a banana leaf.”

She motioned with her hands, “to hold it she’d use a big round basket. We had it to clean the rice; because rice in the Philippines is kind of sandy and you need to pick out the shells. She’d toss it in the air and she would use that to hold all of the maruya before we sold it.”

Later, in the car, my mom told me more: “I used to put those baskets over my head and go around the street to sell. They were cheap. It was just to make money, because we had a lot of bananas growing in our yard. In the little Barrio we had a lot of banana plants and coconut plantations. People would just bring them down when they came to town and just give them to us.

We’d shout the name of it. Well, we didn’t call it maruya. It’s called sinoput. Everyone would just call us to get our attention and they would buy it. The funny part is that your aunt, Mama Ayong would say that I was always faster. I would run away because I would sell it faster. We sold it for merienda, because in the Philippines in the afternoon just after lunch you have a snack. It’s around 3:00. Then we have dinner again. We have 2 snacks, because we have breakfast – we get up really early in the morning, and then 9 we have a snack merienda, and then 12, lunch; and then at 3:00 we have merienda and then dinner.

They knew your grandmother was well known for cooking snacks. They would just buy it from us. I didn’t even know if we gave change. I think it was 50 centavos at the time. I don’t really know how much I made, but it was just the fun of it. I would just hand over the money to her without even counting it. You just probably walked a block or less and a block away people knew already. Even if they didn’t know what we were selling they’d just buy it. It was like, remember when you went to the Philippines, at night people a, a guy would be coming out around 7:00 at night, “LUT!” which is “BALUT”. People are going to start drinking, and they used it for appetizers.”

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The ripeness was mellow but addicting. It had a taste and an addictive quality that I was surprised by. Listening to my mother’s story, I see the memory of buying these off of a freshly charred banana leaf as others in the community engage in a time honored “snack time.” It makes me happy to think that I am part of a culture that holds food to such a high precedence and frequency.

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