Features: Flavor of the Month: Bukidnon’s Binaki
Ooops, it’s not from frogs as binaki sounds like ‘baki’, vernacular for frog. It’s from maize or corn. It is made from ground corn (or mashed?) mixed with milk, sugar and other secret ingridients. If I am not mistaken, Binaki is made and sold only in Mindanao’s Bukidnon!
It got its name though from ‘baki’ because it is wrapped with original corn skin and folded in the form of a frog. But, move over Kermit, its not from among your tribe.
But I assure you, this exotic delicacy is frog-free!
If made with the choicest ingridients, hardworking hands and patient preparation, it will not become Bukidnon’s PAST glorious kakanin (snack). (Remember: In the 1980s, vendors in Malaybalay used to offer this local pride in the bus terminals and sidewalks at P5 only for four pieces!)
If improved, it could become or transform into the province’s future pasalubong for tourists! It could go along side by side with products of national prominence such as Iloilo’s Pinasugbo, Bacolod’s Piaya, Camiguin’s Pastel, Davao’s Durian or Iligan’s Pinakurat!
But why my sudden twist for binaki?
Well, honestly, when I went home last week, I found out from a friend that someone they know ordered around 200 pieces of binaki as pasalubong to relatives in America! Unfortunately (for the relatives), at the last minute, the balikbayan decided not to bring the food for convenience sake because they were reminded at the Lumbia airport in Cagayan de Oro, about baggage limits!
Being a consumable and practically with no preservatives, they decided to leave the binaki behind and gave it as a gift to this friend. Just in time, I got to taste this binaki (and finished at least five pieces), made from the best ingridients they could buy from sources in Malaybalay, including choice young corn varieties in Aglayan barangay.
Without doubt, I think that was the best binaki I have tasted so far: with its native flavor retained plus some more cheese and milk –I can only guess. They should make and sell binaki like that again in bus terminals or even in restaurants!
But I learned later that binaki makers have a problem: the product is losing its appeal to the younger generations and even to age-old patrons. From what I have heard, fewer corn varieties (specifically: native, good for binaki) have remained in Bukidnon farms! They are now replaced with hybrid corn varieties that are more attractive to farmers for high returns. Unfortunately, these varieties are best choice as ingridients for hog-raising! (by golly).
So when we tried to order for binaki that tastes like it’s for export; we were told that we can’t get that unless we search for our choice of corn!
Honestly, most farmers now plant hybrid corn varieties and I suspect that that’s the MAJOR reason why at one point people’s patronage of binaki even in Bukidnon also went down. Did it taste like hog feed? Ah-oh.
It seems like we have to save some native varieties of corn to save Binaki as well.
So, does it mean that the hunt for the legendary binaki taste is actually a revisit to Bukidnon’s glorious past with organic farming? And well, probably, a peep at the province’s increasing dependence to synthetic farming and some questions on food security? *There goes me and my advocacies, again.* Oh, but thats for another blog.
What’s your flavor of the month? What’s your hometown’s version of Binaki?