“Pao, pao, pao.” That all too familiar shouts of vendors boarding buses whenever it passes through the City of Carcar. These vendors are actually selling a sweet delicacy that is a proud product of the city, the ampao.
The ampao is considered as the Cebuano version of the rice krispies of the United States. It is an inexpensive sweet snack that can be brought home by visitors as a pasalubong to the folks back home. The ampao was first produced in the 1900s in Carcar before its popularity increased in the 1940s.
This sweet and crunchy treat is made of dried cooked rice and peanuts mixed together with sugary syrup and poured into a mold to form its distinctive rectangular shape. The cooked rice is normally laid out under the sun to dry it up. The process makes the cooked rice crunchy. After this, peanuts are added to give the treat its unique taste. Syrup made of sugar and kalamansi is added into the mixture before pouring everything into a mold. While the ampao typically has a rectangular shape, the shape of the mold determines how it looks like in the end.
The original version of this sweet, crunchy treat is colored white and is covered with clear plastic. But, some versions come in a number of colors to make them pleasing to the eye. The bite-size version of the ampao has a sweeter taste compared to the original, which is bigger. The ampao is normally eaten as a snack similar to other delicacies in Cebu.
The ampao of Carcar is already available in a number of groceries, supermarkets and pasalubong centers in the city. Small neighborhood stores and sidewalk vendors may also sell this delicious treat. But, the best place to buy the treat is at the source itself where it is cheaper.
When was the last time you ate the ampao of Carcar? Tell us about it on the comments section below.
Lola Pureza's Peanut Browas, a taste of old Cebu.
Available in leading supermarkets and pasalubong shops.