Merienda at the Office…


There is something so basically good about some deep fried kamote (sweet potato or is it a yam?) coated in caramelized sugar. I am presently sitting at an impressive rather large old wooden (probably antique) desk2desk at the family office and have been very busy for the past couple of days. The desk is probably one that my grandfather used at his law offices and it smacks of a bygone era. It’s so short that I keep jamming my knees against the drawers, yet the desk top is so broad, I not only have phones, a computer, papers, etc. on it, but there is space for a 1940’s glass fruit bowl, an inlaid box, a carved bust and a ceramic plate or two, a fossilized clamshell paperweight and a great sturdy cane that I just unearthed from the bowels of the ancesgtral homes that I am clearing out. The cane is exactly made for a man of my height so I have adopted it; and wonder whose it must have been as my grandparents were shorter than I am. I think it gives me an air of respectability, walking around with a cane, whether I need it or not…heehee. You can tell I am in the ancestral part of my life… The desk is so wide that you keep a “stately” distance from any guests seated opposite you…or is that to ensure enough airspace should they or you have any body odours you don’t want to share with the general public?

At any rate, the reason I am describing the desk I am typing at right this instant, is to give you an idea of the “stage setting” every afternoon at around 3:30 p.m., when like clockwork, a spectacular desk3plate of banana-que and kamote-que arrives for the afternoon merienda! I can easily eat three sticks of banana or kamote-que but I try to limit myself to two. Yum. There are several kinds of kamote but regardless of variety, the flavorful starch fried and therefore rich in fat combined with caramelized sugar is enough to make you stop work for a few minutes, shoot the breeze with whoever is in the room and reach for a diet coke to feel like you are being calorie conscious… I put a post on minatamis na kamote before, and I recently fried up some kamote at home (last photo below) and no matter how much I eat it, I still appreciate it ever single time it shows up on my wide wooden desk at work… When I was a kid, my mom used to fry thinly sliced kamote into “chips” and she would sprinkle them with white sugar…that was good too but i prefer the dripping in caramelized sugar version even more!



34 Responses

  1. I don’t like kamote cue much. I’ll have dozens of the banana cues though. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to find saging saba (even in Asian Markets) that are good for banana cues. Put this under “food I miss from home”.

    And I think it’s sweet potato, yams grow much bigger in terms of diameter and length, skin is much rougher and harder to peel, the purple coloured ones are the ones used for halaya. So if you know how an ube looks like, that’s a yam, only they have white coloured variety as well. In the US sweet potatoes are called yams, but they are not, you could only buy yams in Asian Markets or some specialty stores. I have yet to see a true yam in any regular US groceries.

  2. I love kamote and bananacue but let me deviate for a moment, …is that a bust of your lolo? or is it that of Jose Rizal?

    Also, where did the word kamotecue or bananacue originate from? Im thinking they may have something to do with barbecue and judging by the cue suffix, im assuming this is a ‘new’ Pinoy food, its origins dating only to the American period(?)

  3. i never tire of this merienda…..i’m still here at the office and now i’ve seen your post…..ngutom tuloy ako…

    btw, who is the bust?

  4. MM is there a secret to how to make the caramelized sugar stick to the bananas/camotes while you fry ’em? I haven’t got the process down yet and most of the time I’m left with some burnt, and bitter-tasting caramelized sugar at the bottom of the frying pan.

    Here in the SF Bayarea, we normally buy the Japanese Yam variety … they seem to have the same chewy texture that we prefer. ‘Saba’, of course, is ubiquitous in most Asian grocery stores … we’ve yet to try the ‘plantain’ types that are common in Hispanic stores though. My mom-in-law used them for her puchero dish and I kinda like the texture as well.

  5. I love our kamote – especially the variety with delicate, flaky and airy texture. I love our kamote in any way they are prepared – fried, boiled, steamed and minatamis especially when it’s raining. The best comfort food merienda with a good cup of black coffee. We used to steam them with chopped sugar cane on the bottom of the pan and cover them with old shirt, ensuring the water does not reach the kamote. When they are ready, you take the cover off the pan, the aroma is heavenly. It is to die for. I also love our banana the saba variety in any way they are prepared. Banana cues and kamote cues are very common street foods and just looking at them, you will know which vendor prepares the good crunchy ones. Banana cues and kamote cues are reminiscent of my youth. Thank you for bringing me back to memory lane.

  6. I love camote cue but I prefer the french fries “cut” camote cue because it is easy to eat and cook. I love banana cue and camote cue when the bits of caramelized sugar is sticking to banana or camote and not the gooey dripping burnt sugar. I also love maruya or banana fritter. Two more months and I’ll be home in my hometown Sta. Rosa, Laguna and enjoy banana cue, binatog, guinatang bola bola, palitaw, dinuguan, puto binan, buco pi, camote cue, kanduli, biya, mamale and tilapia and more more more. California is nice but it does not have the culture of the Philippines.

  7. Kamote Q. Yeah, they have that here at our local Barbacoa restaurant but served as thick french fries with a sweet mayonnaise based sauce. Hubby loves it.

  8. Desk is circa 1945, made from the same narra tree the dining room tables came from. The tree was delivered in gratitude for Lola saving a kid’s life in Bicol with her stash of sulfa. I’ll bet the cane was Lolo’s, he took to carrying one around in the late ’60s. He was about 5’11”, tall for his generation.

  9. marketman, if you and your guests are eating camote cue for merienda, consider yourselves lucky to be separated by a wide table because this rootcrop does tend to have a high propensity for gasseous incidents.

  10. What a beautiful table and wonderful memories!

    MM,is it your birthday today ?”Or sometime soon? If so, I want to wish you a “Happy Birthday”.May all your birthday wishes be fulfilled!

    My only wish at the moment is munching on a bananacue and that camotecue.The pics are truly eyecandy!

  11. Nara wood?! MM, you feel like selling me that desk?! Can’t find Nara wood anywhere. That kind of find should be handed down to your grandkids!

  12. Linda, ssshhhhh…. how could you have possibly remembered? I know there were posts last year but people don’t usually go back that far! Actually, it’s my birthday on Sunday, the 20th. But since I am at the office in Cebu, I have a birthday lunch blowout today…just waiting for the inasal or lechon to arrive… Will post pictures by Sunday. And thanks for remembering!!!

    skymermaid, yipes, I didn’t realize kamote=wind. sister, he was 5’11”!? I must have recalled him from his later years when he shrank a bit to 5’8″ or 5’9″. Could this cane have been a cane of his American Jewish partner in the bus companies?

    eD, like you, I have no idea how to ensure the blobs of sugar stick to the kamote or banana. I think it has to do with the thickness or clumpiness of the brown sugar used…

    Oh, and for all the curious, I actually don’t know who the bust is of…I just thought it looked interesting so I put it on my desk… It’s old, but not a relative.

    Jean, the tree my sister speaks of in the comment above was huge. My grandparents made several solid dining tables and there are 3 of these desks in the office…

  13. it’s me again, I recently stumbled across yr birthday when I was searching for “lansones”and two of yr readers/fans sent you their birthday wishes.

    Once again,my family and myself wish you a very,very “Happy Birthday”.

    We’ll be going to a farmer’s market this weekend along the Fleurieu Peninsula and then have lunch at the “Star of Greece” restaurant which is overlooking the ocean and we’ll toast a drink to you, Marketman!

  14. my yaya usually cooks bananacue using semi ripe to ripe saba, it makes a softer and sweeter bananacue. instead of gooey sugar she makes the sugar more flaky and crunchy. best served straight out of the pan and perfect with a tall glass of ice cold coke :)

    Happy birthday Marketman!

  15. Happy Birthday, Marketman!! Your blog has been part of my daily routine now for quite sometime, and I wish you all the best.

  16. Hoy Mr. MarketMan, I bought a cookbook in San Diego as my gift to you. I’m going home Oct 18 in the Philippines. Please let me know your cell phone number via my e-mail address I will contact you once I’m home in Sta. Rosa, Laguna in October. My wife loves to cook too. My siblings have this passion for cooking. I always go for lunch in Mexico and I noticed that their tamales is very famous. I wish we can revive tamales in the Philippines.

  17. Happy Birthday, MM……May this year be full of fun and food and family (and funds, of course!) for you, and for all of us as well!

  18. Hmm, is this a coincidence or what? The other day I was just thinking of writing you to ask when is your birthday, and here I am, reading their birthday greetings! Happy birthday Mr. MM!

  19. Happy birthday Marketman. May we know how old you are? Hehe, just kidding. But come to think of it, you’re semi-retired but you and the mrs. definitely do not look anywhere near retirement age. Or semi-retirement age for that matter, which I imagine would be from 50 upwards.

  20. Happy Birthday Marketman! A birthday EB? *hint*

    When we were kids, I remember watching our suki cooking banana cue and kamote cue.

    first thing I notice is that she uses lots of oil. Heated but not smoking, she puts brown sugar in the oil. When it starts to melt, she adds the banana/kamote. tpos halo ng halo. when she thinks its all cooked, she adds a little more bit of brown sugar to coat, to get that crunchy, crystally, coating.

    yum, yum yum.

  21. First things first.. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MM. I was just searching about lanzones and I stumbled into this site. What a delighful experience to read all about our favorit meriendas. I truly miss home now! I haven’t had bananacue or kamotecue in 20 years. I’ve had turon but they aren’t as good as the ones my mother used to make when I was growing up. Thanks for the tips on how to make them. I will certainly try that with my kids. They love Filipino food especially my 8 year old son. He can finish one whole fried tilapia all on his own. The head attached to the fish doesn’t bother him. :-)

  22. Happy Bday MM.

    You should try making camoteque with minatamis na bao instead of sugar…. it’s different (sticky and soft) and it has that distinct coconut flavor… different yet truly filipino…

  23. Does anyone know where I can get an ice grinder so I can make my own halo halo at home? My kids love it but gets expensive if we have to make a trip to the Filipino restaurant every other day.

  24. camote-Q or banana-Q.. one of my fave pinoy meriendas! love it esp. when it has loooots of sugar… ;)



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