The other day, a sapota tree caught my eye. Not only was it full of fruit, it was the small fruit of the old kind, not the smooth, round, plump and rather tasteless sapota we see everywhere nowadays. It reminded me of how our fruit seller, a couple of years ago, rang my doorbell and said "Sapota, paala sapota" before I could shake my head and send him away. These fruit literally ooze sweetness.
I was tempted to pluck a few from the tree but the branches were a bit too high for me. I regretfully continued walking away, thinking of the sapota tree we had had in one of my childhood homes. Then I read Cynthia's column which triggered off memories. Since then I have been compiling a mental list of things I no longer see or do not easily get nowadays.
I never liked it much, but one fruit that I hardly see nowadays is Seema Chintakaya. You can see a picture here. I think it was on my recent Goa trip that I saw one fruit lying on the ground. And no, I wasn't tempted to pick it up and consume it. This is the kind of fruit that you down from trees with the help of rocks or sticks, if you don't climb yourself, the kind that you find heaped on carts in small towns.
I'm not sure if it's living in a city outside the native place that deprives you of such delights or that such foods have more or less gone out of circulation and existence nowadays, but it's been more than 10 years since I've seen tender tamarind tree leaves (chinta chiguru) which are used in dal, both here and at home (maybe I just haven't been there at the right time); a rarely-made-even-then vegetable called tammakaya, of which I can find no trace, even on the Net; pommelo, which makes a half-hearted appearance in my city only around Vinayaka Chaturthi; vakkaya, which was used to make a really sour and tart dal; snaky, twisty, mile-long snakegourds which are just coming back into fashion; and isn't it a pity that until I called an uncle I could hardly remember what could bring back the memory of 'vagaru', one of the six tastes? (Zest and pith of citrus fruit, pomegranate membrane, seema chintakaya - anything that's bitter but not quite so and disturbs the peace in your throat and even in your nose.)
What are the foods that you don't see/find anymore? Tell me all about the fruits, vegetables, snacks and even processed foods that you miss. Hopefully, they're alive and kicking in some corner of the world.
Nostalgia Old forgotten foods Rare foods Memories