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May 24, 2018

EATING IS A HEROIC ACT

“I want some!,” said one.

“We call it Panggi in Negros,” said another.

And after I posted a photo of Pajo mangoes in my Instagram account and shared it in Facebook, friends started to reply and comment and that’s how I confirmed that this fruit has to be saved from extinction.

Pajo mangoes are only seen in April and May, and sold at extremely expensive prices because it is rare and seasonal. The tree, as I researched after this clamor in Facebook, looks like a regular mango tree and probably was never propagated because people wanted bigger mangoes, higher-yielding varieties, exportable quantities and this situation left the Pajo in backyards and nondescript places.

But I felt good hearing from as far as Cordillera (they call it Pao), Negros (Panggi), and of course Bulacan and Cavite. Happily, Roger Cruz, a mango seedling specialist, was in the thread. He may soon propagate it and we can then enjoy more of the Pajo and also make its price realistically affordable. For now, it’s priced like gold! And because it only is seen in April and May, people buy all of what they see (a habit called Pakyaw) and brine it or make it pickled mangoes to last for a longer time.

It’s perfect as a side dish and may also be eaten fresh (with rock salt/ sea salt). People say the flavor is like olives, tart and a little bitter. It’s just like Duhat—but we will get to that later.

And with the diverse comments from different regions we know that we can excite consumers about “endangered” species such as Pajo. Doreen Fernandez and Felice Prudente-Sta. Maria have written a lot of materials on the pajo, and I am sure Slow Food advocates will want to nominate similar fruits to the Ark of Taste. In fact, before writing this, I just wrote Slow Food to list the Pajo. Listing is open to everyone who remembers a fruit from their younger years, a fruit, or vegetable that you don’t see often anymore (macopa, duhat, mansanitas, etc). And since it’s summer, we find many of these varieties that still come out of Nature’s closet during the warmest times.

If you are not yet a supporter or member of Slow Food, sign up now or list the fruits you do not see so often anymore in Ark of Taste and nominate or “report” a product. Translate the page (which is in Italian as default) to English and report away. It’s simple and noble act to make sure we preserve these fruits and vegetables so our biodiversity can be preserved. Be a hero through Slow Food!

Why are we crazy about this? The world , if we do not act now, will soon be harvesting a limited variety of fruits and all food may be coming just from a few companies. What we want is a biodiverse planet, one that we grew up in, and one that we hope our grandchildren will also have the chance to experience.

And how do you start? Just “be interested” a friend said. Don’t argue. Don’t be a preacher.

Just take an interest in our food sources and you can help by encouraging young people to also be curious.

If you want to know how we can continue to find the pajo and duhat and to make our joy last longer, we can do the following:

  • Report it to the Ark of Taste or email us and we will do it: slowfoodph@gmail.com
  • Post it on Instagram or Facebook and we will repost to check how many people also miss it and like it. Use the hashtags: #slowfoodph #arkoftaste #slowfoodmanila

After enjoying the fruit in season and doing the simple steps we mentioned, stand proud as a hero. You may have just saved something very important for our future.

It’s simple, right?

 

 

Slow Food lists endangered species, cooking traditions and other culturally-unique gastronomy practices and food varieties in the Ark of Taste. Visit www.slowfood.com. Join Slow Food Philippines FB group, Slow Food Manila FB page, and join us in our search for the events that are coming soon like World Food Expo at SMX on August 1-4 and Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy on September 20-24.

 

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