Ampalaya, Photo by PH Morton
Alamat Ng Ampalaya (Legend of Bitter Gourd)
Ampalaya is so bitter so it is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. But having said that, once you get used to its taste, you might actually love it as an ingredients to many recipes.
Ampalaya, is a Tagalog name for bitter gourd and it is called parya in the Ilocos region of the Philippines where I spent my childhood eating our own homegrown parya.
There is a Filipino legend how this vegetable got its bitter taste.
Alamat ng Ampalaya:
Once upon a time, there was a Green Garden, where all sorts of vegetables grew robustly and profusely.
In this verdant garden, there grew pumpkins with unique sweetness.
There were tomatoes with slight sourness but with fair, soft complexion.
The eggplants were sublime in their royal purple coats.
The lettuce carpeted the ground with their dewey leaves as they look up to the early morning sun.
The jicamas were as fresh and crisp as a new day.
Rhizomes of spicy ginger stood majestically amongst the vegetables.
The onions, shyly confident with their breathtaking thin delicate skin, that they make one cry!.
The daikon radish is the fairest of them all and knows it very well. 🙂
In the far corner stood a little gourd, waiting, watching, hoping to be noticed.
But she was different from the rest, she was wan and pale with a taste that was hard to explain . Day after day she watched the others with their boasting, their preening, their chattering, their joy.
She can’t help but compare herself with them. The more she does the more she thought that she cannot measure up with anyone. As days passed, she can’t bear it anymore, she planned and plotted to carry out a most heinous scheme.
As soon as it got dark, she stealthily went from one vegetable to the next and the next until she had taken all their outstanding qualities.
Overnight the ampalaya became the belle of the Green Garden. Everyone where asking where did she come from. She was admired for her beauty and utter perfection.
But there is no secret that can be hidden forever. The other vegetables start to suspect that there is something that is not quite right.
As the sun was just setting, the vegetables covertly followed ampalaya in her corner of the Green Garden. To their amazement, they saw her peel each of the layers of the qualities that made her so perfect. Without much ado, the vegetables frogmarched the now wan and pale ampalaya to see the Fairy Queen of the Green Garden.
The Queen was not amused. She looked over at the amplaya and could not believe why she was not satisfied with her beautiful pale appearance! As a punishment, she let it be known that from the next new light, the ampalaya will wake up with dark warty lumpy skin and the bitterest of taste. And she would always either be loved or hated for all eternity.
Moral of the story: everyone is beautiful, you just have to cultivate your own asset!