Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Be My Papaya!

I grew up in Bulacan, a province north of Metro Manila, where most of the families, especially in the places farthest from the city, are agricultural. It is right in the center of the agricultural plains of Luzon that’s why. So before industrial capitalists invaded its farmlands, the Bulakenyos lived by planting rice, fruits, and vegetables. The land is blessed with the richest soil, so fertile the soil that even now, amidst the sprouting of concrete buildings in what used to be farmlands, you’d find it easy to grow any kind of plant anywhere. In our old house in fact, you’d find an assortment of fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs right outside the kitchen. Most of these plants grew from seeds thrown outside the kitchen window. Because of this, we used to have around 5 to 10 papaya trees in the kitchen backyard. My father was fond of the fruit, so you’ll imagine where all the seeds go when we eat them—yes, outside the kitchen window. And yes, this is another nostalgic post. I’ve grown to love papaya myself, but not the ripe ones. I prefer eating green papayas, those that you cook in a stew or in some surprisingly great recipe like this one I’m sharing with you.

Ginataang Papaya
1 medium-sized green papaya
2 cans of spicy sardines
1 pack of instant coconut milk
Cooking oil

1. Cut the papaya into small slices the way you’d cut sayote.
2. Crush the sardines in its sauce.
3. Saute the garlic and onion in hot oil. Add the crushed sardines.
4. Add in the papaya and the coconut milk.
5. Leave until the papaya is cooked. Its consistency should be like that of laing.

Ginataang Papaya is best served freshly cooked with any kind of fried fish. Try it!

There’s a little story behind this recipe which my brother tells me he innovated himself. My youngest brother, because he is still hunting for a job after graduating last March, is the default housekeeper. Among other household duties, he takes care of budgeting the money I give him for our food. Now last week, he used some of the money for a personal expense which he thought was just okay with me. He was wrong there. So I told him he had to make do with what’s left of the money I gave him. That’s how this recipe was born.

Want to learn more about papaya? Here are some quick facts about the fruit:
• Papaya has papain which, aside from its now more widely-known ability to whiten skin, is an effective meat tenderizer.
• There are parts in the world which use papaya as a contraceptive. Papaya-flavored condoms anyone? Or papaya pills perhaps?
• Ground papaya seeds may be used as a substitute for black pepper because of its spicy taste.
• Eating too much papaya will make your palms and the soles of your feet yellow.

How do I know a lot about papayas? Thanks to this and this.


iskoo said...

now i know that there is such thing as comdom papaya flavor, haha. what i know is that papaya is the recommended food for those who wants to decrease their libido (but not sure if its just a myth).

thnx for visiting mg site :)

juOn said...

Hi iskoo. No problem. I linked you here so I could find your website easily any time.

Oh yeah? I didn't know that about papaya. I guess it ties to the fact that the fruit does have contraceptive effects. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I miss papaya in chicken tinola! Aaaah! I didn't know papaya seeds could be spicy, wow. I don't like eating ripe papaya, it stinks! lol.

juOn said...

Pareho tayo Mark. I'm not that fond of eating ripe papaya. But I love playing with the seeds, pinching the gelatinous coverings and then flicking them on my brother's face. hahahahaha My Dad used to put evaporated milk on papaya just like what most people do with avocado. The milk sort of masks the odor. :-)