(That's my favorite salab - the brownish delicacy
wrapped in plastic. Photo taken on my previous visit.)
(Bitso-bitso is another favorite - cruller made of
ground sticky rice and brown-sugar coating.)
Growing up in Negros Island in the Philippines, I remember an old lady vendor from Silay City, whom we called Tia Bodok. During the week, she would travel from Silay City and roam around my hometown, Victorias City, selling native delicacies. My two favorites from her wide basket were salab and dulce gatas! Salab is like a fried pancake made with coconut strips, while dulce gatas (also known as dulce de leche) is a very sweet dessert made from fresh carabao's milk. She would walk throughout the morning carrying her wide basket on her head, balancing it like a pro. By noon, all her goodies would have been all sold out, and she would go back home to Silay City.
(Cassave cake and buko pie, too!)
It's not just a store where you can buy all those barquillos, puto and other baked goodies to bring home. It is also a small restaurant where you can enjoy salab, fresh lumpia and bitso-bitso sitting down!
Last year, on my way to Manila, I dropped by El Ideal to get some salab and ate one inside the pre-departure area of Bacolod-Silay Airport, and another one in the plane! It was the best domestic in-flight meal I ever had! Ha-ha-ha!
So, today, even if it was already late in the afternoon, I dropped by El Ideal to get some salab, but unfortunately, wala na! Waaah! Salab was all sold out for the day!
But I cried not! There will be salab tomorrow and the next day...and the next! And perhaps, when I drop by again this week, I would finally get some while I am here.
(They also have sandwiches!)
And when that moment comes, I will offer the first bite to Tia Bodok, wherever she may be. So, thank you, El Ideal, for letting me enjoy all those memories again of Tia Bodok and her salab.
El Ideal is just next to the Silay City plaza, just next to the intersection of the road going to the Silay-Bacolod Airport. So, if you happen to land at that airport, or if you're catching a flight, you can always swing by El Ideal. Those yummy snacks and delicacies are just a few minutes away! :-)