Growing up in the Philippines, I would always wake up to a familiar sound outside my window. It would start out as a faint echo from a distance and as it came closer, it would become this big, bellowing voice that called out,"Teeee....naaaaaaaaaah....paaaaay!" It was Mang Tinapay! That was what we called the man who sold fresh bread rolls every morning. Before the crack of dawn, he would fill the back of his bicycle with a basket full of tinapay. Then he'd head out to our neighborhood, just when everyone was waking up. Sometimes I'd wait outside with my Lola, clutching my money in my hand, ready to buy a bag from him. When he'd reach the front of our house, he'd stop his bike and I'd politely ask him,"Isang supot po." He'd open the lid, pluck each tinapay out of his basket and drop them in a bag. He had this cool way of closing the bag: he'd take each end and spin it around a couple times. That was always fun to watch.
The tinapay I loved so much as a child is more commonly known as pandesal, which is kind of a misnomer (translation is "salted bread') because it's actually a sweet bread roll. Everyone has their own special way of enjoying it. Most like eating them plain straight out of the bag. My Lola loves dunking it in her coffee. My friends like to eat it with corned beef or Spam (Filipinos love their canned meats). Of course my favorite palaman (which means "filling" in the Tagalog) is sweet coco jam made of coconut milk and sugar. It's ridiculously good!
There's really nothing better than hot pandesal. You'll hear Filipinos from all over say this, because when you bite into a fresh pandesal while it's still soft and warm...it's just heavenly. I feel lucky that there's a wonderful bakery here in San Diego called Valerios that bakes them daily. You walk into their shop and the mouthwatering aroma of pan...