Sunday, July 5, 2009
Transplants: Batanes Gabi and Mystery Stuff
Our web guy Omar's family is from the Ivatan ethnic group. Though he didn't grow up in beautiful Batanes, his family goes back and forth between the area.
We were meeting over crepes one day and we got to talking about gabi or taro, which is called sudi in their parts. Having what is one of the most windy, stormy and unwelcoming position on our archipelago, Ivatans traditionally used less vulnerable underground tubers such as yams and taro as their staple food. Both visitors and natives attest to a characteristically bland diet, one of the hazards of difficult terrains. (Check out this interesting article by Mol Fernandez by Batanes food in the Inquirer.)
I expressed intrigue over the Batanes gabi, which Omar said had more narrow leaves, probably for protection against the tearing that the large ones are likely to experience from the wind. Furthermore, they are supposed to taste better. Omar recounted buying a "regular" gabi from the grocery and testing it by cooking a Batanes variety at the same time, and by all counts, his native root crop was superior.
Omar so kindly requested his parents to bring home some plantable specimens, which were intercepted at the airport, or something like that! But I saw him last week and he handed me some that his cousin brought back, which were composed of the stems, and a portion of the tuber. I left it in my bag for a few days due to something hectic, and when I removed it, roots were growing quite encouragingly.
So I planted them in last night when I was making Oakley (dog) pee in the garden, and I can't wait to see how the leaves look, and better, how they taste (I actually have a book on Batanes plants, but I lent it to someone.). I put them in pots first until I figure out where the best place to plant them is.
I've also taken a bunch of baby trees from the side of the road. One of them is hopefully a little version of the berry tree (bignay) that was beside it. They are several different ones, none of which I am familiar with. Sometimes that's part of the fun, right? There is a tall dill snapped off from someone's house, which shall be poked into a random part of the garden.
(It's raining pretty good now.)
Posted by Bea