Tagbilaran, Sunday, 10 April 2011
Do you know that there are more than 30,000 kinds of bread in the world? Although, I only know a few of them, I love every kind of bread. Give me a small cheese bread and I am a happy kid.
I never thought that I would be hooked up to Baker King (also known as Baker King, Kim Tak Goo/Bread, Love and Dreams). I love the characters. There is Mr. President who is always composed and disciplined. Kim Tak Goo is a lovable character (he always wears a smile amidst circumstances). He cares for other people before himself and as he becomes a very skilled baker, he starts to use his hands to make wonderful bread for people and to become the very best baker. And there is Master Pal Bong, my favorite character. He is really an inspiration to everyone. When he talks, he always makes sense.
(The Baker King got audiences hooked in Korea with ratings hitting 50.8 percent and averaging 38.6 percent nationwide. It tells of brothers Kim Tak Goo and Matthew (Goo Ma Jun) competing with each other to dominate the baking industry.)
Why such craze? Bread is part of all civilization. Every culture does it a little differently. Historians said that bread symbolized the elevation of mankind from of a beast-like to civilized state. In Iliad and the Odyssey, the phrase "bread eaters" is a synonym for "men."
The baking industry in Bohol is sprouting like mushrooms. Others come and go.
Have you tasted pan Bohol? Pan Bohol (Bohol bread) is a white bread made with wheat flour and yeast probably named after the province of Bohol. It is unknown who made pan Bohol (which is also known as pan de libro) and when it was introduced to the public. The original pan Bohol is square shape and looks like smooth pan de sal without the crumbs that usually covers the bread. It is fragrant and delicious and the flavor has a unique taste, it is salty. It is rare to find the original pan Bohol although there are bakeshops in Cebu and Mindanao which sell Bohol bread.
You'll have Baking 101 if you're watching Baker King. I've learned that the dough is the foundation of all the breads. It is because dough and fermentation will decide everything about bread. There is nothing special about dough, it just takes countless practice. Until you can take hold of the best condition of the dough, you need to keep on kneading the dough. Dough is where the yeast lives. Just like how the house depends on how it's built.
So, Master Pal Bong has given me a task: To find Bohol's most filling bread, interesting bread and happiest bread.
Hai! Hai! Hai! Ready?
Central Bakery--Undoubtedly, every Boholano knows Central Bakery. It is a family heritage of excellent kneading since 1950s owned by the Chiong family. The original bakeshop along Lamdagan Street sells the best freshly baked pan de sal in Bohol. Baby boomers would remember how Central Bakery's parrot would whistle at them each time they go buy pan de sal or binangkal.
Pan de sal (literally, salt bread) is of course arguably the prime beloved incarnation of bread among Filipinos, or at least the most ubiquitous. I'm pretty sure that all self-respecting bakeries make and sell pan de sal, however, Central Bakery's pan de sal is truly amazing.
It is great morning to start with Central Bakery's pan de sal. It is very hard and crusty. The bread has a nice crisp outer skin, dusted with breadcrumbs and cornmeal, while the inside was a little more dense than commercial pan de sals, and chewy and light, but not airy at all. Also, this bread is notable for its absence of sweetness.
Recently, the Central Bakery in Lamdagan Street only sells pan de sal from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. Their branch, the New Central Bakery, along M.H. Del Pilar Street (near the Gov. Celestino Gallares Regional Hospital), sells pan de sal and other pastries like patatas, tajada, tinapay and egg crackers.
Try also their binangkal (sesame seed balls), the best binangkal in the province! Their binangkal, a fried, sesame seed flour balls, is unique because the color is dark brown (because of the muscovado sugar they are using) and fragrant. They're a very tasty and filling snack.
Jojie's Bakeshop--The Jojie's sliced bread is so delicious that you can taste the milk running on your tongue. They have the best rolling bayan, choco crinkles, mushroom, star, francis, king roll, pan bantok, everlasting, ensaimada, elorde, Marjorie, lasu-lasu, cheesy torta, torta special, Belgium, pineapple pie, cay-cay, otap, eggcraker, patatas, pacencia, dahun-dahun, tajada, brostrilos and toasted mamon.
Jojie's cheesy torta is fragrant and delicious. The flavor has a unique taste. Their hopia pork and figpie are very tasty!
BQ Bread Basket--The best French bread and baguette in Bohol! They have different varieties of bread. Farmers bread, which tasty and stunning rustic look bread, is also popular to expats. Farmers bread looks simple, yet humble bread that would look gorgeous on any dinner table.
The skill they used in making vegeroll is one of the best I've ever seen. It is also very good how they filled a fancy pastry with simple pepper, it showed creativity and the taste is also very good.
They also have bacon and cheese croissants, ham and cheese croissants, garlic herb, tuna turn-over, cheese roll, ham split, peanut buns, macapuno turn-over, hopia baboy, raisin cocktail, torta cheese big, torta special, mammon, royal bibingka, fig pie and rolling bayan.
Alturas / Island City Mall Bread Cottage--Their Spanish bread has the best smell! They also expressed the sweetness of butter and sugar very well in a soft way. They also sell foccacia bread, a flat oven-baked Italian bread, topped with rosemary herb. Focaccia is related to pizza, but not considered to be the same. They also sell fig choco, ubi pie, francis, cheroke, sesame buns, golden raisins, rainbow bread, baked roll, chichay bread, puto cheese, ensaimada (mongo), pan de rosa, ciabata, elorde and sputnik.
Park 'n Go--I like their caramel bread. They also sell square pan desal, orange roll, pan bohol, cheese and cream, cheese monay, star bread, pandan tube roll, chocolate tube roll, chocoflower, polvoron, strawberry tube roll, coco roll, pan de coco, peanut bread and cheese bread.
Bohol Bee Farm--Popular for their camote bread with homemade spreads: peanut butter, pesto, mango and cheese with honey. They have also squash and carrot muffins. Bohol Bee Farm is evolving a unique, eco-friendly line of food products that contributes to the health, integrity and dietary balance of the body.
Manolette Bakeshop in Ubay town has delicious and unique breads shaped like inasal. Ramirez Cakes and Pastries also offers cheese bread and also popular of their cakes and pastries. Shopper's Mart is also popular for their torta. Madelicious, Julie's Bakeshop and Kiddies' Bakeshop also serves delicious bread like cheese bread, coco roll, corn bread, king roll, pan de leche, mammon, ensaimada and sweet monay.
Every time I eat bread, I thank the Lord (remember that man shall not live by bread alone!), the farmers and the bakers. I have my appreciation to our bakers because I know that the road of making bread is not easy. It's possible to bake bread with a smile but end in tears. But bakers can show us how to end with a smile. There are times that they are rejected because of making substandard bread. Like life, "baking is all about experience, they experienced bad times, sad times. They experienced good times and bad times."
I don't hear a baker who beats other people. If there is, it is very rare because bakers washed their hands in flour. How can you use the hands that make bread people eat, and use the same hands to beat people?
There is no best baker, there is only the famous. There is no best bakeshop; there is only the famous bakeshop.
Master Pal Bong beams: "Even though we're considered merely as bread guys baking bread, we are master artisans that spend our lives in the pursuit of creating the taste of the bread. Don't ever forget that Leo."
I will Master Pal Bong... kumhapsaneeda (thank you)!
My visit to Bohol's bakeshops has given me the chance to see several realities in life and for making me believe that no matter how difficult every situation can be, life is not that bad after all. It makes me realize that finding the world's most filling bread was in the spirit of thinking of others, finding the world's interesting bread was in the spirit of enjoying ourselves (and how bakers love their work); and finding the world's happiest bread is in the spirit of finding life (the bread the bakers have to make for all the days of their lives).
Leo P. Udtohan
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