I had a college roommate who lived on an unvarying diet of Pop-Tarts, cigarettes, Diet Coke, and beer. Occasionally - OK, rather more often than occasionally - I joined her in consumption of the latter three. But I never really got the Pop-Tarts.
Until now. You see, in the Philippine piaya I've found the ultimate Pop-Tart. And it's a beautiful thing.
Piaya are flat, round biscuits filled with muscovado sugar. Their unsweetened wheat flour dough is rolled super thin and the whole is griddled. I can't be sure, but the flakiness of piaya dough suggests the presence of lard. What really makes piaya irresistible, though, is the filling. Philippine muscovado sugar is fragrant and incredibly complex in flavor - I've tasted in it vague hints of vanilla, raisin, chocolate, and smoke.
There's nothing like a piaya hot off the griddle, but this specialty of Negros is hard to find in Manila. And it's pretty much impossible to get your hands on outside of the Philippines.
Imagine my delight, then, when I opened a FedEx box last week to find a veritable bounty of piaya. Back in July Dave and I lunched (deliciously) with Manila chef Myrna Segismundo and her friend, pastry chef Jill Sandique. I guess Jill registered my piaya ravings (I'll rave about them to whomever might care to listen), because a month or so after I sent her a couple of kilos of small-batch gula Melaka she reciprocated by asking a friend in Negros to send a load of piaya my way. Jill's note advised storing my piaya in the freezer and re-heating them in the toaster. Not comparable, of course, to fresh-off-the-griddle, but still mighty fine.
I'm rationing my piaya, limiting myself to only one or two a week. (Dave's been allowed a couple.) They have to last ... till our next trip to the Land of the Ultimate Pop-Tart.