Thursday, 27 January 2011

Interview: Culinary Expert and Food Historian Lilian "Atching" M.L. Borromeo (Mexico, Pampanga)

Lilian "Atching" M.L. Borromeo
The Wooden Pastry Molds
The 70 year old Lilian M.L. (Mercado-Lising) Borromeo or Tita Atching, as she would want to be called, was to do a cooking demonstration, at her blue colored ancestral house in Mexico, Pampanga, on the making of her famous San Nicolas cookies (or panecillos).  These cookies bear the intricately carved image of St. Nicholas, the patron s aint of bakers, with a bird on the side. A buffet lunch of select Kapampangan dishes was also prepared. On the buffet table was morcon (beef roll with egg at the center), nasing birinyi (chicken saffron rice, also called arroz valenciana), pritong hito (fried catfish), betute (deep fried frogs stuffed with vegetables and herbs), swam mais (corn soup), tidtad babi (Kapampangan dinuguan), chewy and crunchy pork sisig (grilled, boiled then fried parts of a pig's head) and delectable tibuk-tibuk (pudding made from carabao's milk, corn starch, sugar and lemon), all washed down with pandan juice.  
After lunch, Tita Atching showed  her prized wooden pastry molds  (some dating back to the 1750s) passed down to her (and the craft of making San Nicolas cookies) by her great grandmother. The recipe for the cookies, according to her, came from Spain. During the Spanish era, the locals built churches by binding the stones with egg whites, and that meant a surplus of unused egg yolks. The egg yolks were put to good use when they discovered the recipe for the cookies.  Aside from the egg yolks, ingredients for making the dough include third-class flour (arrowroot flour in the olden days), margarine, coconut milk, baking powder and corn starch.  A variation of her San Nicolas cookies is her dulce prenda which has a filling of grated winter melon or kundol and is embossed with a vestment print of La Naval Manila or Our Lady of the Rosary of the Philippines.  
Kapampangan Heritage Pastries: Parian, Mexico, Pampanga.  Tel:  (045) 875-0378 and 966-0211.  Mobile number: (0915) 773-0788.

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