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Wow, it has been amazing to read all of your stories.  Thank you for sharing.  Now, it’s my turn. 

I grew up in a village called Disimpit in the town of Jones.  This town in the province of Isabela on the northernmost and largest island in the Philippines called Luzon.  Got it?  Several months before our birthdays every year, grandpa would take my brother and I to his pig pen.  He would tell us each to choose the best one.  So we did that and even gave them some cute names.  My brother and I would go visit the pigs most days to feed them and have a little chat, encouraging them just to get a little bit fatter.  If you didn’t know it already, Filipinos are very serious about their lechón, whole roasted pig.  It is ever present in major events such as birthdays, graduations, weddings, and funerals.  Yes indeeed, the cute and fat little piggy became a delicious birthday dish.  I apologize to my vegetarian friends if I’ve horrified you.  Blame tradition I guess.

Everyone in the village was invited.  The men would start early in the day to prepare the pig for roasting.  The women made other savory dishes and prepared some traditional desserts.  My favorite of which is called indilakot, a glutinous rice cake, steamed in banana leaves and served with the most delicious sauce.  Everyone had a role.  Someone would go out to chop down the banana leaves.  Another person would cut the leaves into the right size, then each piece would be held over a flame to make it more pliable and easier to work with.  The banana leaf releases some oil from the mild roasting and it is absolutely one of my most favorite smells in the world.  I can’t really describe it.  It does not smell like bananas.  The rice grains would be ground into flour then worked into a dough by adding coconut milk, and some water.  A large table of older women expertly wrapped the dough with the warm banana leaves as someone prepared a large steamer for cooking.  The sauce was made from freshly picked mature coconuts (grated and squeezed to get the milk).  The milk was then reduced on low heat until it turned into golden-brown colored curds and clear fat.  Molasses and cane sugar was added after that and it is cooked until nice and syrupy.

Below is a picture of  the indilakot dessert that my grandma made last Christmas.  It was not  made with freshly picked coconuts or banana leaves (because she lives in Illinois now).  Still it was prepared with a lot of love and fond memories of our old community.  The whole family looks forward to eating it every holiday and other important occassions.

I’m sorry I made you wait awhile.  Let me announce the winner.  Using a random number generator and with the help of my dog Oliver’s little paw, the lucky commenter is number 6.  Jessie you are the winner of the Earth Dinner package 🙂  Congratulations!  Please send me your address so that I can forward it to my contact at Organic Valley.  They will send you your prize.

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