If you’re a Filipino, you most probably know what a “suman” is. If you’re a foreigner, you most probably don’t know what a “suman” is. Either way, you most probably don’t know what’s the English term for “suman”.
Don’t ask me, because I also don’t know. I won’t even go into the different kinds of suman, like the Suman sa Lihiya. So let me just describe what a suman is. What are the basic ingredients? I could surmise that there are secret recipes, but the basic mix is this: It’s gelatinous rice boiled with coconut milk and sugar (do it another way — cook the sticky rice first, then later immerse in a mixture of coconut milk and sugar — and you’ll have “biko”). While the resulting product is edible, it isn’t fun to eat and it’s not suman yet. Wrap a serving size in fresh banana leaf, just like the general shape of a cigar, then cook again briefly. Voila! You have suman.
To serve and eat, unwrap the suman and place it on your plate. Slice a mango or get some jackfruit jam. Get a little of the suman and a little of the mango. Follow through with a sip of tsokolate (the local concoction, made from tablea, tabliya or whatever it’s called).
The serving process is quite complicated, as you can see. It’s also “messy”, like, say, when you want to eat in your car. In short, it doesn’t fall under “finger foods”. So imagine my jubilation when I found a suman with the mango already inserted inside the wrapper. Not only that — it comes in different flavors, including mango, jackfruit (langka), ube, macapuno and muscovado.
I first encountered this kind of suman while visiting Tiendesitas, but since the place is not really near to me, I rarely go there. Then I found out that it has a branch or outlet in Trinoma Mall, right outside the supermarket entrance (ground floor, just behind the escalators, at the Landmark side). It’s called Tita Lynn’s Flavored Suman. Ahhh, the great taste of suman without the mess.