My memories of childhood summers always include the tambis. One of the bigger trees in our garden, the tambis or macopa (water/rose apple) was also the only one in our street and bore so much fruit that it gave us our version of a lemonade stand. Every summer afternoon, my sisters and I would set up a small table in front of our gate, arrange the tambis in pyramids and sell them to neighborhood kids for about ten centavos per three pieces.
We also had aratiles and guava trees and our playmates were free to pick a few from those. (I remember that guava tree. I kept peeling off the top layer of its trunk because it was always smoother underneath — a victim of my misdirected quest for neatness even in nature.)
The fruit trees in my mother’s garden are especially prolific now that it’s summer. Around this time, neighborhood kids regularly come around and ask if they can pick aratiles or hagis or tambis. Ma always says yes but also always with a warning for them to leave some on the trees or else, heh. Some things never change. 🙂
We call this hagis and it’s a very, VERY TART fruit. (I have tried in vain to find out what it is called in other climes but even in Philippine websites, nothing came up.) While bright red outside, its flesh is white. Did I mention that it is sour? It is best eaten by nibbling after dipping in some rock salt. Eating it has the desirable effect of making one’s teeth feel as dry as chalk.
Another sour fruit often eaten with some rock salt is green mango or indian mango. These are not merely unripe regular (sweet) mangoes but is a distinct variety. Sometimes it is shredded and included in Asian salads with some vinaigrette, or diced and mixed with salted eggs and tomatoes and sprinkled with salt, or blended with ice and heaps of sugar as Green Mango Shake. It’s sometimes eaten after meals but is never considered dessert. 🙂
The tambis or macopa is also called water apple or rose apple. It is bell-shaped, has a slightly spongy white interior and has a taste similar to either not-so-sweet honeydew or water with lemon. How to eat: Pick from the tree, rub off the dirt with the hem of your shirt and take a bite. (Optional: dip into some rock salt or chill first before eating.)
Iba or kamias (also variously called sour cucumber, pepino de indias, bilimbi) is another of those super sour fruits that we in Southeast Asia love to eat (often only dipped in salt). It is delicious cooked in coconut milk (with lots of bird’s eye chili) and, like green mango, is also wonderfully refreshing as a fruit shake.
And one more…
I, too, was amazed when I found out that my Ma has a cashew or kasuy tree in her backyard. Although I’ve been eating cashew nuts forever, I had never seen a cashew tree or fruit before. (While I was preparing the pictures for this post, my hubby saw this and asked, ‘What’s that?’. Turns out he has not seen one either.)
The seed or nut of the cashew grows atop the fruit. Once the fruit turns yellowish or falls from the tree, the seeds are gathered and roasted for hours, dried under the sun, then roasted again until the shells crack. Inside are those delicious, slightly oily cashew nuts we are all familiar with.
(Next Sunday/Monday: Things will be sweeter around here.)
Also featuring my Ma’s garden: