Sweet Tamarind (Sampalok)

Matamis na Sampalok (Sweet Tamarind)

Sometimes it’s more fun to go with the flow rather than overthink something. For instance, there’s no special reason why we’re posting an article about the ordinary sampalok (yes, that’s the same plant used for sinampalukang manok, but you use the leaf for that; you use the fruit for the minatamis o matamis na sampalok, or simply sampalok). Maybe because it has been a long time since we came across sweet tamarind. We happily found some in a pasalubong corner on the way back to Manila from Baguio.

It’s hard to overthink that of all the places we expect to find tamarind, that would be Urdaneta, down in Pangasinan. If we go by names, we would expect to find tamarind in a place named after this tree/fruit — Samapaloc, in the city of Manila. We know, of course, that we can’t judge a book by its cover, in the same way that we can’t judge a place by its name.

It’s also terribly futile to over-analyze the taste of matamis na sampalok. Tamarind, you see, is naturally sour. Candied or sweetened tamarind is sweet, although the sour taste still lingers in the background. And the sweet tamarind that we bought, as reflected in its label, is salted. So we have a sampalok that is sour, yet sweet and salty at the same time. Confused? It’s that taste that leaves you salivating, with a confused facial expression, yet still reaching down the pouch to get some more sampalok. Stop thinking and enjoy.

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