Tamarind, sour fruit
Today’s fruit is featured at the top of my list of forbidden fruits from my childhood.
Back then we had to break certain school rules in order to be able to savor it, which explains why it fell in the prohibited fruit category.
Tamarinds were a fruit we had to acquire secretly most of the times. In pre-k, the tree was only accessible from a classroom window, a classroom we were not allowed to enter outside of class time. Thing is the tree was behind a fence that we could not cross, but had a few branches close to the window. To access it we thus had to perch ourselves to this window and grab the few branches that our short five year old arms could reach in hopes of catching as many pods as possible without getting caught. The luckiest one out of the bunch typically hurriedly put a lot of seeds in his mouth before sharing what was left with the group, at the risk of having to spit it all out, for tamarinds are extremely sour.
As we grew up and attended primary school, and even throughout high school, we were forced to keep this clandestine behavior. We had to resort to even more drastic measures to both obtain this fruit and not have to share it with too many people. The only difference was that we didn’t need to rob them from a tree. We simply had to find our way to the street merchant, something we couldn’t do without breaking more rules.
The tamarinds were sold at the school’s main entrance, which we were not allowed to go back to once we had crossed the main gate in the morning. This did not stop us, however. On the contrary, we found ways to sneak out quite often. You certainly understand that all these bans only made this fruit more tempting and delicious.
We loved tamarind for its rich flesh, its juiciness, its sourness, for the victory of having been able to break rules without getting caught and for the challenge of not getting “suprimé” while eating it.
Just like in pre-k, we thoroughly enjoyed stuffing as many seeds in our mouths as possible as if to prove to our classmates that we could handle the acidity. No need to tell you that we often had to spit it all out as quickly as we had put it in our mouths. They were so sour that our taste buds couldn’t always handle it. This didn’t take away the pleasure that came with eating them, however.
I was sharing these stories with my dad a couple of days ago. And that’s when he told me that when they were kids, they managed to reduce tamarind’s acidity by rubbing the pulp in ashes coming from hot charcoal.
I was surprised especially because I cannot imagine our local tamarinds without their sour taste. I also wondered what my childhood would have been had we kept this tradition of eating them dipped in ashes. I am almost certain that we would have lost the joy that comes with having to break rules to obtain this fruit, and I also think we would have eaten less of it.