August 1, 2006

Caimito and Chico

The two fruits I terribly miss out here in the US: the sweet and soft purplish caimito (Star Apple) and the sweet and grainy brown chico (Sapodilla).

My brother and I grew up climbing the caimito trees fronting our house. We had our own favorite branches where we’d while away the lazy afternoons of youth… almost like waiting for the fruits to ripen right next to our faces. Just sit on a branch, reach for a shiny tender one or two, and gorge away.

Friends and neighbors passing by would see us lounging on the branches; we’d pitch them as many ripe caimitos as they could carry. Most of the time, Papa would be at the foot of the tree, catching fruits my brother and I tossed down -- our very own version of "playing catch."

I remember though, that I never ate the Star Apples piled high on our dining table fruit basket. Not even the ones cooling in our refrigerator. I only ate caimito that I had just picked from our trees with my own hands -- fresh, organic, pesticide-free. Good old days.

Our chico tree was a different story. The tree itself was too dense to lounge in, plus it hosted the life cycles of all kinds of bugs -- spiders, mostly. You’d have to work your way through webs, ants, and aphids to get to the good branches, and then you’d have to literally go out on a limb to reach the fruits. The chico tree taught us how to pick fruits from the ground, using a really long stick rigged with a wire loop (to snag the fruit) and a bag (to catch the snagged fruit) at the end.

Ah, memories of long ago and far away. Our parents were the best; they made sure my brother and I had a wonderful childhood growing up alongside an assortment of fruit trees.

Oh yes, we also had guava, mango, tamarind, santol, avocado, guyabano, and kamias, all lush and fruit-bearing in our yard. I have poignant stories about each of these trees. I’ll write them one of these days.

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