This was perhaps my favorite photograph from the nearly 300 that I took on my recent trip to Bicol. Photography is not my forte, and my hands have such strong tremors that many of my photos come out blurred, and are often instantly deleted. Perhaps I simply have a bias towards pako, or the unfurling (or unfurled in the case of wester fiddlehead ferns) young stems of a fern, but the excitement of finding them in their natural state and capturing it in this manner really made my day. By the roadside, under coconut trees, in low underbrush, these ferns thrive, particularly during the rainy months and they are free for all to just pick and savor… The biggest pain in the neck is having to patiently harvest them and get enough for a small salad… it would take me hours to do that! I have written about fiddlehead ferns or pako before, here, used them in a fusion menu here, and purchased them at the markets, here.
In the wild, they look like some of the more common garden ferns… they grow like weeds and you just have to look closely to find the new tips unfurling. If you follow some of the links to earlier posts above, you will see that the name, pako, which I thought was ours alone, is derived from the Malay word paku, which refers to several kinds of edible ferns in Malaysia and Indonesia, where they also like to eat this delicacy. The best way to enjoy pako, in my opinion? In a chilled salad with tomatoes and a light vinaigrette… superb!