Many places have a delicacy not found in other places. You buy it as pasalubong from a specific place and it seems to lose its soul, or the distinct taste, when sold in other places. It adds to the uniqueness to the place. Take the binagol, for instance, found in Samar and Leyte.
Binagol, which is taro pudding with nuts, derives its name from it’s container — polished coconut shell, called “bagol” in the local dialect. It’s just half of the coconut shell, because if it’s the whole shell (with glutinous/sticky rice as the main ingredient), that would be the kalamay of Bohol. Same glutinous rice ingredient, but using the tiny pitugo shell, that’s the infamous “sundot kulangot” of Baguio City (it’s a delicacy, but its name, which is booger in English, would make you think twice before eating it).
Binagol could be found in Samar and Leyte, and it’s widely known to be the star produce of the municipality of Dagami, found in Leyte province. Still, for travelers and tourists, binagol is generally linked to Tacloban City, primarily because tourists usually use the Tacloban airport as a means of access to the provinces of Samar, Leyte and Southern Leyte.
Tacloban is swarming with binagol: airport, bus terminals, port area, shopping centers, sidewalk stores. Everywhere you’ll see the blackish-green banana leaf cover (two layers, with the grain of the leaf placed perpendicular for strength), beautifully tied by a white string.
There’s an art in eating the binagol. You don’t start by scooping and eating the upper part or the crust, which is a dense mixture of ground taro (this is the primary ingredient, a root crop locally known as gabi, but remember there are many varieties of gabi).
Starting with the crust would give you a dull sweetness, pretty much like eating sugar with an iced tongue. The bottom part is a mixture of taro, condensed milk, coconut milk, with raw egg yolk dropped in the middle, then covered by the tuber mixture. So you slice through until the bottom, where the really sweet part is, and eat a portion which has a good crust-core blend.
We once said that you haven’t been to Bohol if you have not seen the Chocolate Hills. The same is true with binagol (or other delicacies for that matter) — you haven’t been to Leyte if you haven’t tasted binagol.