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promises in an jar of ube jam

promises in an jar of ube jam

The adoration of dessert foods made up of sweetened mashed root vegetables or legumes, or jelly-like substances swimming in liquid, I always think of as a uniquely Asian thing. Red bean buns. Bubble tea. Grass jelly. Buchi (sesame seed) balls. Mooncakes. A couple of days ago, my mother left me a jar each of nata de coco, white beans, macapuno, and ube jam. The jars, all lined up in a row, are like a promise that I can eat my way back to my childhood. Or at least, assemble a damn good

halo halo

stand.

The ube jam gets demolished first. We're like long-lost friends. I grew up  mashing this stuff into my mouth. The last time we met, in 2009, I was coming back from the Philippines and 

handcarrying handmade ube hopia

 from my mother's hometown of Sorsogon. I also got starry-eyed over a tray of ube strawberry chiffon cakes in Goldilocks, a much-loved national bakery. I think I cut my day out in Manila short so that I could hurry back to my hotel room and eat it, cross-legged on top of my duvet. 

Here's a shaky picture of my greedy little hands all over that fine piece of cake

I'm not gonna lie. Maybe if ube jam wasn't such a delightful lavender colour, I wouldn't like it as much. This ube jam is like a barely-mashed sweet potato or kumara but with a smokier flavour. It's pumped full of sugar. Because, hey, we're all friends here. 

This lady 

makes ube cupcakes with it. 

Jacqueline

, my favourite 

Filipino food Instagrammer

, has Martha Stewart'ed the EFF out of these 

ube ice candy

. Don't spread it on bread like I did in these pictures. That was just desperation.

The macapuno balls are dripping in sickly sweet sugary syrup. They taste very faintly of coconut

but mostly of liquid sugar. To some people, that sentence promises the best things on earth. The texture is awesome. It's got the great grated coconut grain (bonus tongue twister for you) that crackles against your teeth but also has the viscosity of.... 

fresh snot.

 Trust me. It's good. 

The packaging is uniquely Filipino; that aggressive yellow sun filched from the flag and the cheery name 

Buenas,

meaning

GOOD.

 Guys, this is a country where you can greet people by shouting 

MABUHAY

in their face. That's a sort of mash-up of

Great! LIFE! TO life! Live Great!

So in English, someone would say to you, "Hey. How are you?" and

you

 get to shout back, "LIVE GREAT!!!" 

My other favourite thing about these little jars of Filipino-living-great-sunshine are the unashamed listing of exotic ingredients like: FD & C Red #40/Allura Red/E129 and FD & C Blue #1/Brilliant Blue/E 133. I feel like I could code a web page with these things. Yesterday, I served a dollop of the ube with the macapuno to my friends. One of them looks up from inspecting the jar and asks, "What's coconut

sport

?" A sporty coconut. Who knew?

Botanists, that's who

.

I try not to flinch when reading the words 

Mutant Coconut 

emblazoned on the front. Other countries food labelling practices are all about the word 

Organic

 but in the Philippines, we're straight up. You're eating 

mutants

. MABUHAY! 

book reviews with my mother

book reviews with my mother

flowers for myths

flowers for myths