Ok, so I’ve gotten requests to go more in detail about the food here. (I also can hear Nanay’s voice “Ay Naky! Ang Sarap!” haha para may ingat ka) So, I’ll be updating this entry every so often as I go on my way. Awlrite, here we go!
Typical Roadside Fruitstand:
This is a fruitstand you can see pretty much everywhere. Hanging at the top obviously are bananas. Bananas here are different. They’re much sweeter and the color of the meat is like the color of plantains, more orange-y.
The top row, from the left: Mango, Rambutan, Papaya, Santol, Oranges. Bottom row: more santol and Langka.
Rambutan is a tropical fruit unavailable in the US. They are typically red, although there are green varities too. The outside is covered with soft spines, think like a sea urchin but soft. If it’s really fresh you can press it and the skin will open, otherwise you can use your nail to open hte peel. The inside is a lot like a lychee, white with a pit in the center. The flavor is like lychee too, but milder.
They grow on really really tall and skinny trees and are tan and, depending on where they’re from, may have black spots. Also depending on where they’re from they may be round or oblong. You open it just by squeezing it. The inside is white translusecnt and segmented. Lanzones season is really December, so at this time there may be some sweet and some sour in a bunch. They taste kin dof like grapefruit, except milder and sweeter.
These, we bought in Paete, which Uncle Bing said is lanzones country, although our family friend said at this time of year lanzones in Paete come from San Pablo. oh well. That bag has 4 kilos, at 60 pesos per kilo. That’s $1.20 per kilo, so less than $.60 per pound. yeayah
The only place I’ve eated fresh guava in the US was from my mom’s tree. You usually find it in paste form or baked into a pastry. These came from the tree in front of Uncle Nene’s house. The flavor you are most familiar with is in the inside, by the seeds, which are hard but edible. The Outside is crisp like a vegetable. These grow pretty high, we use a stick with a net at the end to get them. I think these are my Uncle Boy’s favorite.
Langka is only available in the US in canned form. This fruit is HUGE. The one you see is probably 2 1/2 feet long, and the diameter would be comparable to if I put my arms out in front of me touching my fingers.
The inside basically has segments of meat wrapped around seeds. You can kind of see it in the pic of the whole fruitstand. You can roast the seeds and eat them like nuts. The meat is sort of stringy (really like meat!) and when you chew it it gets kind of slimy. It’s Really sweet. There’s nothing really I can compare the taste to.
Guyabano (or babana) is also unavailable in the states, though you can buy the nectar at most spanish groceries. The inside is very very sweet, like, ridiculous, and it’s very sticky and also somewhat fibrous.
Atis is kinda ugly on the outside. It looks kinda like an artichoke but with bumps instead of leaves. The inside is a lot like guyabano, very sweet and sticky…almost creamy. (i think in Jamaica they call it custard apple) It’s also somewhat grainy like a pear. It’s so frikkin good.
Of course, mango, the pride of the Philippines. Mango season is really May, at that time you can get a mango for 40 pesos, at this time of year they cost 80 pesos. My cousins also claim they are not as sweet at this time, but this one was still the best I’ve ever had.
Mango here is not like what you typically find in the states. The closest thing you’ll get to it in the states is called “champagne mangoes” and they’re from mexico i think. these mangoes are very soft, as you can see you can peel it like a banana. They are also gold in color, not red or orange. They are not fibrous at all, and very very VERY sweet, nothing like the tart mangoes typical in US groceries. Philippine mangoes are the best in the world. talaga. no exaggeration.
Ube in English is called purple Yam. Thant’s basically what it is, a tuber that deep violet in color. Here it’s used mostly in desserts, especially the infamous Ube Jam. You boil the ube, then peel and grate it, then cook it with condensed and evaporated milk until it becomes sticky. The hard part is you have to constantly stir it, which gets tiring when it’s really sticky. The flavor is prety much like a yam except a little nuttier and richer.
No food coloring added, that’s the natural color.
Mussels (taong i think) here are smaller than the frozen variety common in the states and lack that weird aftertaste. They’re much fresher/cleaner tasting. mmm. And cheap! I’m still waiting on calaba (oysters). My cousins asked me if it was true that oysters cost $1 each in the US and when I said yes they stared at me in disbelief, which quicky changed into a look of intense pity. $1 can buy a basketful here.
As you can see, this crab is pretty huge. Crabs on the East coast of the US are tiny. These came from Ate Shirley’s client’s home in Quezon province. The taste is much more profound and rich than typical east coast blue crabs. Much more flavorful, you can really taste the ocean. The females were full of fat and eggs too mmmm.
This is a female because the flap is wide. If it was really narrow, it would be a male. I had no diea there is such thing as a bakla (hermaphordite) crab! theres a crab where the flap is only somewhat wide and they’re smaller than the female. go figure!