Chico or sapodilla is another one of those backyard fruits that you remember from childhood and you either love that you either love or hateâ€¦ It ripens relatively quickly and bruises easily so it doesnâ€™t travel too well (though these days really hard unripe chicos are sent by the kaing or bushel to markets). A native to Central America it derives its name from the Mexican Indian name xicotzapotl according to Doreen Fernandez in her book, Fruits of the Philippines. The chico was introduced into the Philippine archipelago several hundred years ago and thrives in our climate. According to Fernandez, the sap of the chico tree is a sort of gum or chicle, that is the principal ingredient in those old-time favorites, chiclet gum!
The fruit is extremely juicy, sweet and some might describe the texture as being “grainy” or even wet sandpaper like. We only ever ate it as a fresh fruit, preferably cold and just out of the refrigerator. A few years ago I tried the much ballyhooed chico and prosciutto combination (the chico standing in for the fig in Italy) and liked it but didnâ€™t love it. Nice idea though. The intense juiciness of the fruit and its sweetness complement the salty prosciutto. I have never eaten chico in any other way though it seems it is used in jams, sherbet or ice cream and other concoctions. With two seasons per year, chicos are in the markets at the moment at roughly PHP60+ per kilo.