My recent trip to Bohol was interesting in that despite all of the development that included new roads, fancy malls and dozens of hotels on Panglaoâ€™s beaches, the islands still had that proud provincial feel that existed decades ago. Surrounding modest wooden homes were carefully tended gardens that bespoke a pride of place that is getting rarer and rarer these days. It was also nice to see that many of the native delicacies such as broas (ladyfingers) and other baked goods still thriving. And on departure, a line of at least a dozen vendors at the pier were selling another throwback to my early 1970â€™s visits to the island â€“ calamay! Calamay is a sweet concoction of ground sticky rice, sugar, coconut milk, vanilla and some peanuts (optional). It is sold in smooth coconut shells that are sealed shut by a characteristic band of red tape.
As kids we fondly referred to calamay as kulangot or snot because it had a similar consistency but other than that unflattering comparison it was actually rather delicious. I bought a few calamay on my most recent trip (3 pieces for PHP100 and that was the tourist price) to see if it still tasted as good as I remembered. Opened on a hot day, it was more sticky than I recalled and it took some effort to spoon some out to taste. It still tasted good but my tastebuds have evolved away from the ultra sweet versions. And the twist with peanuts is something relatively knew, we always had â€œpureâ€ calamay as kids. If it is refrigerated for a few days, you can slice off a sliver and eat it like you would cheeseâ€¦ I have never seen the stuff made but I understand the ground rice flour is added to near boiling coconut milk and sugar and stirred until it reaches the desired consistency. Vanilla is added to enhance the flavor and chopped peanuts if that grabs you.