Palayok, kalan, panggatong are prominent fixtures in a pinoy dirty kitchen which in Cebuano is called an “abuhan”, in Bohol they call this as “dapog”. Progress has made the native abuhan obsolete especially in the city, but you may be fortunate to still see the traditional kitchen set-up in the provinces.
Traditional kitchen for the Filipino Homes
Heating up cold water for bath in Valencia, Negros Oriental
using traditional stove, firewood, dried coconut husks and a simple takure.
Some lucky folks have homes with two kitchens; the main kitchen with modern cooking equipment and the abuhan where you can find soot laden cookware, hence “dirty”. Usually in cases like this, the abuhan is mainly used during big celebrations like fiestas, weddings, birthday celebrations and of course, binyagan while the regular kitchen is for everyday meals.
After our Siquijor trip, we travelled straight to Valencia, a town about 9 kilometers from Dumaguete City. It’s where my Lola from my mom’s side hails from.
When I woke up the first morning in Valencia, it was cold and I was soooo not looking forward to taking a bath in cold, cold waters. But thank goodness for cheap way of heating water in the provinces. Gather some firewood in the backyard, get water, pour this on the takure and heat it up!
I was real happy to see the abuhan. I was grinning from ear to ear in fact, not only because I can take a bath comfortably, but more so because it brings back memories when I was younger.
I used to cook rice in our simple kalan at kaldero until I was 11 or 12 I think. Back then I can build decent fire in record time. I would squat in front of the kalan (ours was in the ground), arrange the firewood, and take the matchsticks and a scratch paper. Light the matchstick, let the scratch paper catch fire, feed this into the waiting firewood while simultaneously blowing air into it and crossing fingers the blaze won’t die out before the firewood catches fire hehehe.
Masakit sa mata ang usok mula sa panggatong lalo na pagkasindi mo and especially if you used dried coconut husk. Anyhow, the kalan below used a big plank of wood, not the regular twigs and wood from fallen tree branches. This huge firewood can last the whole day or not hehehe
Fire and embers in the old kitchen
Many Filipinos believe that rice and ulam cooked using the traditional simple kitchen equipment always taste better versus dishes cooked in gas or electric stove. Agree ka?
In the city, hindi na uso ang abuhan. I bet city kids of this generation probably have no idea of what the pinoy traditional dirty kitchen look like in the olden days.
Although cooking has become faster with high-tech modern conveniences, unfortunately, the skill to light a fire quickly using only matchsticks and firewood may have also been forgotten. I know if I am challenge now to light a decent fire for cooking, I don’t stand a chance unless I have a one hour time limit hehehe
Probably why I was very thankful my relatives lit the fire on the abuhan on that cold, early morning.