Times like this when my health is betraying me (been very ill since weekend) is when, with Enya's “Exile” playing in the background, I tend to think more of warmer days, more sunshine and more fresh air. Living on the fifth floor of the buliding, the closest distance I have to trees are the bamboos outside our bedroom window ten meters away. I long to step out, just breathe deep and catch a few sundust in my hands. Like two weeks ago, I had to sleep for a few nights outside of Manila because one of my provincial restaurants is having kitchen problems. Instead of staying in a hotel, I phoned my college friend Guada (though has been feeding me with so much sausages and high- cholesterol what not, proved to be a great host ) - and stayed at her place. 'Love you girl!
Every morning at Guada's place I would go out in her backyard and feast on the verdant growth of a somewhat swampy wild garden overgrown with water spinach. I was half expecting some alligator to appear somewhere and gobble me. Guada has said that it used to be a nice garden back in the summer, until the waters crept up and drowned the place.
I took some pictures of papaya trees and flowers. Papaya flowers have a seductive intoxicating scent... and I was thinking that if I would describe myself as a fruit, I'd say I'd like to be a papaya. (or peach or avocado...). Look at that. When the lovely flowers shed off, there grow the healthy plump clusters of papaya fruit...smooth and bountiful...and ripe or unripe, you can create something out of them. I want my papaya prawn salad. Now!
There too, are these lovely guavas. While some guava fruits are patiently waiting to ripen, some of them have miraculously worked out their sensual chemistry with nature – and now are ready for picking. Crunchy, juicy, succulent guavas, when lightly salted, is a prelude to a good chewing and swallowing.... and mouth cleaning. Have you heard of that? Old people say guavas have antiseptic properties that eating them makes your mouth cleaner afterwards. When was the last time you chewed on something fresh and adulterated and unpretentious? And when a little overdone and left unplucked, the guavas all ripened at the trees leave the birds no choice but to peck on them. Look at that pink interior, beautifully revealed after what seemed to be a long time of nibbling.
Then of course there are the custard apples. Custard/ Sugar apples can be a little tricky to grow. Because they are very sweet, insects and aphids can't wait for their turns to have a taste of the sugary fruit that sometimes they are already under attack way before they are ready . So smart people pick them from the trees and let them ripen on a fruit basket. It may take a little patience to wait for the sugar apple to be ready for eating, but rest assured that when they are, with just a small press of your fingers, they'd open themselves easily for you. When you break into the fruit, scoop out with a spoon the insides of the pulp and you'd feel a somewhat sandy, gritty texture there. You spit out the black seeds, and suck in the beautiful sweetness.