We Filpinos are known to be constantly eating. Aside from the three full meals, we snack in between. There are different kinds of snacks, from the light to the heavy ones, which seem to be meals in themselves.
Today we look at one type of snack, which I had always found curious because it is not really to assuage hunger or to nourish oneself. The term we use in Capampangan is ‘guigut’ (pronounced ‘ghee-goot’) and the Tagalog equivalent is ‘kutkot’ but not to be confused with the Capampanan ‘cutcut’ which means ‘bury’ or ‘to bury’. This kind of eating is something you do to while away time. The way I have come to understand it, it is social eating on one end, similar to eating finger food while mingling at cocktails. At the other extreme, it can lead to compulsive eating, when one cannot watch a movie or read a book without nibbling on something.
Not all types of food can be had as ‘guigutan’ (noun). A sandwich does not fall under this category, neither does a bowl of noodles. What are guigutan are morsels, such as peanuts, corn kernels, dried watermelon, squash or sunflower seeds. In the past, it was common to see people munching on a few grains of newly-milled uncooked rice (Cap. abias, Tag. bigas) as they were cleaning it before being kept in storage. I am not sure if there is a western equivalent to this type of nibbling. I am still trying to look for the specific term.
However, it is interesting then, to find ‘guigut’ in my old favourite, Fray Diego Bergaño’s Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga (1732).
Guigut. (pp.) N.S. El granito tierno blanquito del arroz en leche. Anting guigut,dicen para ponderar lo sabroso de algo. V. act, y en prot. Descascarar sacar el Guigut. P. 2. prot. Guigut, el grano de palay, que se descáscara.
What I understand with my very limited Spanish, is how the term ‘guigut’ refers to very young rice grains, ‘anting guigut’ is to taste in small amounts, such as when you test the flavour of something and it also refers to shelling (hulling) the grains. This does not differ much from how it is now. When I mentioned munching on grains of uncooked rice, it is not as if they are eaten like popcorn or peanuts. It is just like tasting or even testing. But to shell the grains is a different thing. This brings to mind ‘mangguigut’ dried watermelon, squash or sunflower seeds. Those are the more common guigutan nowadays.
As for the picture above, yes, we always have peanuts, maize and bananas at home. They are meant to tide us over – and to be served to unexpected guests – in between meals. Healthy but filling. A note though, bananas are not guigutan. Their sweetness is meant to be a contrast to the mild saltiness and nutty flavour of the peanuts and maize.
So, how do we say it in English?