Waxberries that brought me back

9 01 2009

Waxberry from Shanghai, China. Thanks Paulo!


One storyline on the hit ABC series Ugly Betty that I almost found to be bordering on preposterous involved uber supermodel Adriana Lima (playing herself in the episode), claiming not only that Betty’s “Sizzling Hot” fruit, the “rare” tico berry (rambutan here in the Philippines!) is her ultimate favorite – but also, that “tico is life!”


Now, I don’t know about you but I just couldn’t grasp the essence of that line.  How can some berry mean life to someone or really be capable of transporting someone back to somewhere in the past?


I finally got my answer when I saw this (already opened) bright red foil package on my desk yesterday morning.  It came from my engineer, Paulo Dela Cruz, who had just come back from a business trip in Shanghai, China for a couple of months.


The package said “WAXBERRY 100%” and seriously – I mean, seriously – I haven’t the faintest idea what waxberry is.  But the image of deep, brilliant red spherical fruits with a knobby surface simultaneously enchanted and piqued my curiosity.


I dug in and picked one.  I immediately saw the fruits to be dried, very much like the Filipino-Chinese “champoy.”  Typical of champoy, these ones were dried and then soaked or (even) fermented in a liquid flavoring that tasted very licorice-like.


I popped the waxberry in my mouth and instantly, I recognized it to be champoy.  But not just any champoy, but the champoy of my childhood!  As I worked my teeth through shredding the flesh from the seed at the fruit’s center, I was magically transported by the intense sweetness and pronounced tartness playing in my mouth to a time when life was so much simpler.  I could see myself – the lanky, sickly kid sitting on the marbled steps outside of the home of my childhood, eagerly waiting the arrival of the latest edition of Funny Komiks (comics).


I kept popping in the waxberry – one after another – as the memories kept coming back.  Paulo told me nobody liked the waxberry (probably why it eventually found its way to my desk).  But I loved it!


By the time I was through with the package, not only did I have a pile of dried out seeds next to my laptop, but also – and more importantly – I had a smile on my face as I got reminded about the times when as a kid, the really simple things were enough to make me happy.  There were no complications.  There were the dreams I made for myself.  Dreams, which, while not all realized have nevertheless helped make me who I am now.


So Adriana Lima made sense after all.  This uber supermodel made sense.




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