food trivia: “SAWSAW”… BREAD DIPPED IN COFFEE

bread dipping by sukito

If Americans dip their cookies in milk before they consume it like in an “oreo television commercial”… Filipinos have also their version of doing it, and that is “sawsaw ng tinapay sa mainit na kape” or bread dipped in hot coffee before eating it and drinking the coffee afterwards. Guilty as charged… I am doing it too!

When we were young, we usually see our elderly, our parents and grandparents dip their bread particularly “pandesal” in their hot coffee (with cream or black) every breakfast. They commonly call it as “sawsaw“, a Filipino term which means “to dip“. Traditionally, this manner of eating was passed on from many generations of our families and turned out to be a part of our culture by how Filipinos, wayback since the Spanish times until now consumes their bread and coffee every morning. Research also stated that it is the “aristocratic” way of how Spanish have their breakfast wherein they dip their “churros” which is a Spanish fried doughnut in hot chocolate or “café con leche“, which means “coffee with milk”… and that is why Filipinos tend to adopt it and apply it in the food they eat. With this way of eating for many years usually of common “pinoys“, dipping bread in coffee became one of the identity trademark of Filipinos when it comes to food consumption and also earned its spot to be a part of our “pinoy” culture and tradition as it was being adopted along the Philippines’ rich history up to the present day.

Another reason that can also be associated with “sawsaw” is that it adds flavor to the bread when dipped in coffee… especially when there’s no available  spread on the table. But nowadays, pinoy folks still dip their bread even with butter or margarine on it which makes it more tasteful. In fact, the bitterness of the coffee compliments the sweetness of the bread. In addition, the old ones, our grandparents, loves dipping their bread in hot coffee because it softens the bread and it does enable them to consume it easily because of the fact that elders have this difficulty in swallowing their food as they age or should I say… as we all are. Others say that its hard to drink their coffee while it’s still hot, so they dip in their bread to lessen the hotness of coffee as they consume it with a taste of their bread at the same time. Well, a good way of time management for busy people. In rural areas, the dipping of bread in hot coffee were usually done with some body formation or eating it accompanied with a habit which is bending your one leg up on the chair while your heel lays flat on the seater.

Anyway, it’s ironic how a simple habit that was imitated turned out to be a viral custom and became a part of one country’s culture even if it really wasn’t originated from that particular place. Actually, we have the freedom to eat anyway we want as long as it satisfy our hunger while sharing our food or eating it with someone whom we love or having a good company with while munching.

Enjoy eating and happy dipping!

Photo taken by: Sukito San

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