I have always been drawn to natureâ€™s genetic whackos (produce wise, that is). There is something so unpredictable about fruits and vegetables that all get bastardized on the whim of a bee, the strength of the prevailing winds, the poop of a small foraging animal or the interference of humans in a college laboratory. I am not even sure if these attractive and unusual gourds are the result of such a genetic muttiness, but if they arenâ€™t, they certainly should be. When I was studying in New England, pumpkins were an absolute must around the late fall, and if you had access to a car, you could go to farms a few miles away from the city and pick your own, from a tiny 5 kilo specimen to a gigantic 20 kilo or more. Making their appearance at about the same time were tiny decorative gourds similar to these. Used in Fall or Thanksgiving Holiday centerpieces or arrangements or massed in baskets for visual interest, they could be had for a few cents a piece and I usually had a couple on my desk throughout the Fall semesterâ€¦I just thought their shape, color, texture, etc. were really interesting.
So you can imagine my surprise when I spotted a lot of these gourds at the Salcedo market last Saturday, from the same vendor that I purchased the Cadena de Amor several weeks ago. This is the first time I have seen them for sale in Manila. They were â€œout of season,â€ certainly, but locally grown and well, I just couldnâ€™t resist, if only for the nostalgia from 20+ years ago in a tiny dorm room in New England. I promptly selected about a 15+ gourds which totaled about 3 kilos worth and paid a fairly pricey PHP200 a kilo for them. However, they should last an incredibly long time as they will dry up and retain their color, making them a very economical decorative item if you donâ€™t mind staring at them for the next few monthsâ€¦ I wonder if they will make it to this yearâ€™s Halloween or Thanksgiving Dinnerâ€¦