My grandmother, who owned the bakery in the previous post on Pan de Sal, lived in a memorable house in Cebu city. I describe it as memorable because few kids who spent a night there (let alone a summer) could forget it. Indoors were extensive collections of burial site antiques, old wooden furniture, a grandfather clock that would chime hourly, and appliances from the 1950â€™s. It was the only place I have ever stayed where three or four antique four poster beds were put side by side and kids could jump from bed to bed all enclosed in the most massive mosquito net ever madeâ€¦ Beyond the voluminous mosquito nets were hundreds of old santos, relics, burial jars, staring right at us. Add on resident geckos (tuko) that have that distinctive call or yelp… and you can imagine what kind of ghost stories were whispered in the dark before falling asleep! Outdoors were several prized fighting cocks and in the yard large langka trees that seemed to bear the most gigantic fruit.
I was always fascinated how a tree could bear such enormous fruit (reaching up to 60 pounds in some places!) year after year! Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) are believed to be indigenous to the forests of the Western Ghats in India. It has since spread to Southeast Asia and also grows in parts of Africa, the Caribbean and even Florida. Jackfruit wood is prized in Cebu for the guitars and ukeleles they make and sell to locals and tourists alike. For some reason, I have not eaten fresh langka or nangka for over 20 years. So on a recent drive through Tagaytay, I decided to bring home a small whole langka. At PHP100 for something that was easily 12 kilos I thought it was a bargain. However, the smell was more than I had expected and the car was seriously pungent by the time we got to Manila!
Sliced open, the fruit was perfectly ripe. A bright yellow orange, its distinctive smell brought back childhood memories. The taste was brilliant, crisp yet rubbery at the same time, sweet and flavorful. I can see why others might find it overpowering but it was delicious nonetheless. The problem is what to do with the bounty as it doesnâ€™t keep long. We sent some to the neighbors, sent some home with friends and still we had over half of the langka in the kitchen. I decided to bottle or preserve most of it in sugar water (recipe to follow) for use at a later time in home made halo-haloâ€™s, we ate quite a bit chilled and fresh, we cooked some into banana turon and finally, we threw some into the ginataan I posted yesterday. Delicious stroll down memory laneâ€¦