Chayote is what is called sayote in the Philippines. It is also known as vegetable pear worldwide because of its pear shape and colour. Chayote belongs to the gourd family like cucumber, squash and melon. Chayote is a rich source of vitamin C.
It is a much loved vegetable in the Philippines as it is very versatile. It can be stir-fried, lightly stewed and added to many recipes. It can also a good substitute for the unripe papaya for a chicken soup called tinola.
Sayote is mostly grown in the mountainous part of the Ilocos region in the Philippines. In fact, the photo above is taken while we were trekking the rice terraces of Benguet.
The vine grows supported by chicken wire against a fence.
It is said that if it is bitter then it is good for you. You only have to remember the taste of the different drugs (as in medicine) 🙂 you have taken over the years. Bitter as bitter can be!!!
In the bitterness scale ampalaya can reign supreme, so much so that it is now an accepted crude metaphor for a person being bitter. 🙂 🙂 🙂 like “Ampalaya ka naman, Ate” (you are a bitter gourd, sister) pertaining to someone, who is on a full on tirade. 🙂
Anyway, bitter it may be, ampalaya is delicious in its own way that it is a major ingredients in many a Filipino recipe. Just search for ampalaya or bitter gourd in the search box on the top right of this site.
By the way ampalaya or bitter gourd is also referred to as bitter melon.
Vinca major is a good climber but can grow robustly and actively on the ground and can therefore be a bit of a nuisance as its stems can root just about anywhere. However it does give lovely jewel of vivid blue flowers and its leaves are so green and beautifully shiny with yellow shade in the middle.
Maculata flowers in the spring.
So it needs a good pruning to control its growth after flowering or train it to climb into a bush or shrub to co-exist.
Luffa Squash is known in Manila, Philippines as patola and as kabatiti amongst Ilocano speaking people of Northern Luzon.
When I was a little girl in Marag, we used to tell the time by the flowering of some plants. Kabatiti usually flowers at around 5:00pm. So those who are on cooking duties would rush home to start preparing supper.
The flowers of kabatiti, like those of squash and pumpkins can be eaten as well. It is delicious blanched into a salad with tomatoes and the local bagoong (fermented fish). It is delicious added to the staple dish of Ilocanos which is the pakbet or pinakbet. It could also be cooked in dinengdeng.
The kabatiti or Luffa Squash is a complex vegetable which is made of vascular netted sponge-like material. When left to dry, the vegetable is ideal as a bathing scrubber. In fact the luffah cloth now available in the market are made from these kabatitis of luffas.