By JUDY CARIÑO
Women from Besao would nod their heads in agreement. But for the rest, gaki are small freshwater crabs, and Balas-iyan is the place where the right variety is found for a successful tengba. Of course, tengba is that fermented mixture of gaki, salt and pounded rice, which is said to help a mother produce enough milk to nurse her new-born baby.
When I gave birth to my first-born, my mother-in-law who hails from Besao brought me tengba. She explained the difficulty in getting the right crabs. Attempts to use available crabs in the Baguio market called kappi, resulted in a bitter batch, while crabs from the river in Besao resulted in a tasteless one. Thus, experience has taught the women of Besao that it is essential the crabs come from the river near Balas-iyan, at the tri-boundary of Mountain Province, Abra and Ilocos Sur. This river is apparently clean and not affected by pollution. Read the rest of this entry →