Nobody knows where the word puso comes from. In the Tagalog language, puso means “heart.” But this puso we’re talking about is food. It is pronounced as pusô. It is rice wrapped in coconut leaves shaped like a diamond. At least that’s what it looks like to me.
The making of pusô is not merely clumping cooked rice in your hands and wrapping them in coconut leaves like what some people probably used to think. Truth is, the coconut leaves are first weaved into diamond shells. The master weaver then leaves a hole open. This hole is where they pour uncooked rice before sealing up the shell and putting them on a large pot filled with water and putting them over the fire. The usual way of cooking rice happens when all that is done – which is merely to wait until the water is gone and until the rice have grown and gone soft.
There is no existing gadget used to measure the amount of uncooked rice to put in the shell. That is all up to the skillfull maker to decide. Put too much rice in the shell and the rice would not be able to grow much, the shell would restrict its expansion. So this would result in a pusô that’s hard and clumpy. The making of pusô requires a degree of thinking that is only earned through practice and learning from people specializing in the craft.
Much talk have been said about the pusô. People have tried to translate it into English. Through time they seem to have met an understanding to call it “hanging rice.” In stores, that is how they are displayed hence, the name. In every store that sells pusô, one can immediately guess that there’s also barbecue for sale. Yet it’s not just barbecue that goes well with it. In meals held by the beach for example, it is only but normal to bring pusô around along with any viand one likes to bring. And just as a Filipino meal is incomplete without plain rice, some meals are incomplete without pusô. Pusô can truly be the “puso” of any occasion.