I have soooo many fond memories of home – Barbados. Family, beach and blue water, warm sun, tropical flowers, music and one of the tastiest things to me – TAMARIND! Yes there are many tasty things from home, but tamarind is always a favorite for me. Not everyone knows or is familiar with this fruit, or as my husband calls it – “this strange fruit”. LOL It is encased in a brown hard shell that does not really look too appetizing, but inside is…….after the hard shell is cracked open, is a little pod, looks like a pea pod but dark brown, with soft flesh and a seed in each individual pod. They range from “make your mouth pucker” sour to sweet. The tamarind is naturally grown in tropical regions, it’s grown wild and on a tree, pretty large trees. I can remember going for moonlit walks when I was little with my mom and grandmom and sometimes my aunties and passing tamarind trees with these delicious little fruits, just calling my name. I remember passing them many times and getting soooooo excited and picking the ones that had fallen, up off the ground. My mom and aunties and grandmom always tried to stop me and bribe me with a “we’ll get you some! Just leave those, they’ve fallen, put those down!!” They are really good in what we call “tamarind balls”. That is when they have been takes out the hard brown pods and rolled into little balls covered with sugar and sometimes salt. WHOOOO DELICIOUS!!!!!
Now tamarind is also in lot of indian food and some Thai food that I’ve noticed. Lots of cultures use these little fruits in a variety of ways, I have seen since I have grown up and moved away from home. I still get tamarind, living here, but let me tell you it is not the same as getting it directly from the tree on which it was grown. No sir! Between the time it spends in some factory for collection, time spent at some distribution center, time it takes to be imported, and get to the shelf at the store here…..it’s a crying shame what they look like and even what they taste like. But my friend, I still have a taste or two every now and again when I get that nudge and they start calling my name again. Yes…..a sweet memory it is! Not only is it a favorite because of my love for them, but now it is like that sweet sentimental trinket that brings back a warm breeze, fresh smell of clean ocean air and the tender memories of my family back home, it’s like that far away hug that you need every now and then!