Summer is the season for everyone who is yearning for the sun, the sun worshippers as they’re labeled. It’s the school break for the students and a great time for the employees to make use of their VLs (vacation leaves). The time when beaches and hotel resorts are overcrowded by groups of friends, families and company employees. The moment to show off your “beach body” that you worked hard for the whole year round, and of course, the season of getting a sexy tan line!
Summer does not transpire at the same time of the year in the whole world. Honestly, I didn’t know this until I experienced living in South Korea. I thought all Asian countries have their summer in the same month. Well, I know that the summer in the US is from June to September, as well as the other Western countries. and I just found out that New Zealand’s summer is not the same as the US or UK (thanks to my mum-in-law!) (Oh come on Gracie! You wanted to travel across the whole world yet you didn’t bother to look at the seasons of those countries? I know, I know… sorry, my bad).
Philippine’s summer starts around March until May. Sometimes you could already feel the summer heat around the last week of February. However, it is still the weather bureau that announces the official date of the summer, of course, that’s according to their weather forecasts. I remember when they announced it last month, I was like, “Seriously?! It’s been more than 30° Celsius since February, and you’re telling us that April is the ‘official’ summer?” Anyway, summer is summer; the sun is the sun! And that means summer getaways!
When I was a kid, I always long for the last day at school, as it is the sign for us that it is already summer! No troubles in waking up in the morning to go to school, we can stay late at night, more time to play, going to the beach or swimming pool with friends, and of course, the food we can only eat during summer!
So here are some of my favorite summer foods that I grew up with!
Mango is one of my favorite fruits during summer. This is the season when you can buy it cheaper. You can see some of it in the supermarket around December to February but expect that the price is a total rip-off.
I’m not talking about just ripe (yellow) mangoes here! Most Filipinos love eating green (unripe) mangoes. Yep, you read it right! weird, eh? and we love it dipped in cooked shrimp paste. Again… weird, eh? The sour taste of the green mango complements the salty, sweet and spicy (optional) flavor of the shrimp paste. ( Goodness! I’m drooling right now as I write this article!). As a matter of fact, it’s not just a Filipino thing. I’ve read that some parts of South-East Asia also have the same thing about green mangoes and shrimp paste.
Additionally, there are many varieties of mangoes that you’ll find in the Philippines. My favorite is the Indian mango. I have no idea if it came from India, but all I know is that it is not too sour, which suits my taste buds! You can also easily find them in someone else’s backyard!
Duhat (Java Plum)
Duhat trees bear fruits around March and April. This fruit brings a lot of memories from my childhood! My great grandfather used to have trees of Duhat near his rice fields. I used to climb that tree together with my cousins and get some fruits. Sometimes we put it straight into our mouth, or we place it in a plastic bag then bring it home. On a plate, we’ll dash a bit of rock salt to it! I remember one time when our great grandfather chased us with a stick because we almost emptied the entire tree. Later at home, our grandmother nagged us the whole day because our shirts were stained by the purple (almost black) color of the fruits. So yeah, it is very memorable to me.
The taste of Duhat may vary sometimes. It could be sweet when it is ripe (the color is dark purple to black) or a bit of sour and acrid when it is still light purple.
Camachile is also known as Pithecellobium Dulce (what?!). Though I’m not too keen on this one (I hate the smell), but this is also another fruit-bearing tree that’s nostalgic for me. Again… we used to get Camachile during summer vacation (still owned by my great grandfather) when I was a kid. And oh yes! Same scenarios, with running around and chasing us with a stick! However, this type of tree is difficult to climb at because the branches are jagged.
Another favorite during summer is the turnips! I can eat this for a whole week! This root crop is famous during summer because its watery taste helps replenish the thirst from the summer heat. It is also good with shrimp paste or just a bit of salt to add a taste. Sometimes, I soak it with cane vinegar, ground pepper, and chilies.
Another seasonal food here in the Philippines is the peanut! You might see some of it the whole year round, but the harvesting season for it is around April; that’s when you’ll see them in piles when you visit public markets.
When I was a kid, whenever we have our Visita Iglesia during Semana Santa, we never fail to buy a bag of freshly steamed peanuts. I just need to be careful eating it though, allergens attack at wrong places sometimes. Even so, I really love peanuts! Good thing it doesn’t give me severe allergies when I eat in moderation.
Summer won’t be complete without watermelons! This juicy and mouthwatering fruit is very popular every summer (not only in the Philippines, I guess). Just like mangoes, you may see some of it all year round, but it may be pricey or it could be imported from other countries.
I always order watermelon shake when I go to restaurants. However, during this season, I don’t have to go there just to have a taste of it. You can buy it in the supermarkets, public markets and on the side of the road!
It also has varieties like the red ones which could be plain dark green or striped light green on the outside with a round shape. And there’s my favorite which is yellow inside but has the oval shape.
Philippine’s most popular summer comfort food, Halo-Halo, may be found in some restaurants and fast food chains anytime. However, during summer, you can find tiny stalls selling this on the streets.
Halo-Halo has different ingredients like sweet beans (black beans and/or kidney beans), tapioca, jelly, coconut, sweet potato, sweetened banana, sweet corn, sugar, and sweetened jackfruit. Of course, it won’t be complete without the two main ingredients which are the evaporated milk and crushed or shaved ice. To make it more special, they top it with a bit of sweetened purple yam and leche flan. Ice cream on top is optional, too!
There’s also another type of this dessert. Mais con Hielo, which has crushed ice, milk, sugar and sweet corn and Banana con Hielo, which has the same ingredients except it has the (of course) banana instead of corn. These two are a bit cheaper than the Halo-Halo that has loads of ingredients.
Filipinos love to eat, and Philippine’s summer foods are something that you should not miss when you visit around March to May. Of course, don’t forget to explore the beautiful islands and beaches of the country while tasting the summer of the Philippines!
Do you have summer comfort foods in your country? What is your favorite?