I’ve long traveled from the metropolitan Cebu to the southern or northern most part of the Cebu province. Every time the bus makes a stop, vendors that sell peanuts, mangoes, mineral water and others are the first ones to greet the passengers.
Among those for sale is the distinctive white, crunchy and white rice crispies known as ampao. This rectangular-shaped and thick layered crunchy treat requires you to open your mouth really wide or else you’ll sprinkle those tiny fragments on the ground or on your lap while you’re sitting. Of course, with its sweet taste, ants are more likely to collect those tiny pieces.
Ampao makers would actually lay the whole rice crispies in the sun to make it dry; this would then make it crispier than ever. I can certainly say that it’s not only the sugar rush that makes me want it more but its distinctive taste in every bite. A peanut or two can be found somewhere in its thick mass and it does go very well to its overall taste.
I found out that the best and tasty ampaos can be found in Carcar, the southern part of Cebu. But there are also ampao packages that are sold in groceries and sari-sari stores. It also evolved into different colors, from red to blue to green to yellow. These ampaos have different flavors from the original.
Whenever I grab a bite, there is this nostalgic feeling that brings me back to the days when I go home to Surigao. I can definitely say that it’s not the flavor itself that sets apart from any local delicacy but also memories.