Suman or sticky rice cake is no stranger to Filipino gastronomic flair. This adored all-day, all-season snack could well become a delicious contender for national snack title, should there be any. And the House of Suman in Clarin, Misamis Occidental wouldn’t settle for second best honor because theirs is the suman to end all suman in the Philippines.
Clarin may be dwarfed by Ozamis City, its closest neighbor & center of trade in Misamis Occidental. But it is actually this small town that brings pride to the province when it comes to our all-time favorite suman. In 2017, their rice cake even floored the snootiest chefs at the Madrid Fusion in Manila, the glitziest culinary showcase there is in the world.
Clarin: The House of Rock n’ Roll Suman
If 17 flavors of suman goodness aren’t cool enough, I don’t know what else are. They come in classic sticky rice, mango, pineapple, ube, buko, peanut, langka & yes, the exotic durian. It also rolls in tablea chocolate, chocolate with peanuts & nom-nom-nom cocoa-twisted moron (stress on the 2nd syllable, please). Wickedly, their moron comes with another “same-same but different” filling choco-moron.
Then there’s the champ cheese filling, the nutritious carrot & the undying latik finish or caramelized coco cream. If you still can’t get enough of the single rice flavor, wait ‘til you sample their bestseller balintawak suman. This braids the typical white glutinous rice & purple variety called tapul.
Carbs on carbs? Wait there’s more because Adlai is to-die-for! This suman brings together the usual malagkit rice & the gluten-free grain adlai in sticky deliciousness. Aldlai or Chinese pearl barley is a high-fiber & protein-packed grain that promises a nutritive addition to our timeless suman.
Beyond Just Suman
The truth is, suman is suman anywhere in the Philippines. From the “linapet” of Cordillera & the “patupat” of Ilocos to the “budbud” of Visayas & the “barubod” of Lanao del Sur, it’s the same glutinous rice or cassava cooked in coconut milk. The shape & packaging may vary but again it’s the same delicious snack.
But in Clarin, it’s not just suman. It’s a brand. A brand that tells a story of how once home-based suman makers gathered together to create the House of Suman.
Suman-making has been a long-time trade in Clarin. When I was a young boy in the 80s, I remember eating it whenever I spend vacations in my Auntie Didith’s house in Ozamis. Or sometimes they would bring some during traditional family Sunday lunches at grandma’s house in Baroy.
Back then, suman was just made at home & sold in the market. Fast-forward to 2009, the House of Suman & Pasalubong Center came about, an initiative of the local government that gathered the best suman makers in town under one roof.
But it isn’t just about housing them together. It is also about multi-agency cooperation. The Department of Trade & Industry under its program called One-Town, One-Product supports it with various market-readiness tools. On one hand, the Department of Science & Technology backs them up with food safety techniques.
Thanks to the Department of Agriculture, they now have a Suman Production Center that helps them reach their growing demands. Now they produce about 3,000 pieces each day. But the market is so insatiable that even before sundown they sometimes need to roll more.
With everything in place, the Department of Tourism shoots it to the nation’s foodie wonderlands. And at the rate it’s going, they’re doing it really good. Its pasalubong center in Clarin is now a landmark —- and never runs out of people.
Now that’s a tasty story.
Seriously, the hardest part of being in Clarin is when to stop eating. Just come down south & give yourself a yummy indulgence. Don’t worry about the calories you’ll gain. You’ll easily lose it walking around the heritage town of Jimenez or walking up to the spectacular Christ the Redeemer statue in Sapang Dalaga.
And oh, did I say the suman in Clarin goes well with hot, thick & pure tsokolate batirol?
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