Missing our childhood fruits
Baby Boomers like me are very fortunate for having tasted many fruits, which now are slowly disappearing. I am not talking about santol, lanzones, mango, avocado, and guyabano, which are still cultivated and sold nationwide. What I miss are the likes of kasuy, mabolo, tiesa, camachile, sineguelas, and the very rare susong kalabaw.
Kasuy wine and vinegar – We all know and loved cashew (kasuy nuts). But very few are familiar with or have seen kasuy fruit. That situation may soon change. Local and foreign chefs are all raving about vinegar brewed from kasuy fruit, recently introduced by Mama Sita.
Kasuy vinegar has been compared to Italian balsamic vinegar made from grapes. Both are dark, thick, and hauntingly sweet. Mama Sita developed the kasuy vinegar to assist Indigenous peoples on far-flung islands who depend on kasuy nuts for their livelihood but have had no use for the fruit. Kasuy vinegar is such a big hit among gourmets that there is a waitlist of orders for the seasonal product.
Mabolo means fuzzy – I grew up eating mabolo fruit picked from our neighbor’s kamagong (mahogany tree). Confused? Don’t be. The fruit is called mabolo but the tree is called kamagong. Mabolo means fuzzy or hairy, which aptly describes the velvet surface of the spherical fruit.
Love it or hate it – The tiesa’s bright yellow-orange fruit, when ripe, has the texture of boiled camote, and a very strong aroma, which turns a lot of people off. Too bad, because tiesa is very nutritious and a prolific fruit bearer.
Almost gone – The camachile tree was cultivated extensively in Bulacan and Pampanga where its tree bark was used to tan leather products. Today, camachile fruit is only available from children peddling baskets of fruit along the highway all over Region III.
But with the decline of the once-vigorous local leather industry, camachile trees are being cut down for firewood or chopping boards.
Baby Boomers like me are very fortunate for having tasted many fruits which now are slowly disappearing.
Maytime treat – Sineguelas, also known as Spanish plum, bears fruit in May, just in time for fiestas. There are two types: the small one that turns yellow when ripe, and the more popular big fruit that remains crunchy even when ripe.
In Las Piñas, sineguelas trees proliferated around salt beds and fish ponds where the soil is mostly clay and salty. With salt beds and fish ponds now converted to condos and malls, sineguelas trees had to be cut down, converted to expensive real estate.
Rattan fruit – Bunga ng yantok are still sold in public markets in Quezon, Aurora, and the Cordilleras. The small round fruit look too pretty to be real, with lacquered scales tightly covering each one. The white flesh, bursting with juice, is sour enough to be used in sinigang and other dishes, although kids eat it like green mango, with salt or bagoong.
Suso ng kalabaw – Bright red with felt-like surface, the fruits grow in bunches resembling carabao udders. We learned to bite off one end to punch a hole from which to suck the sweet-sour milky juices.