The Delectable Sugar Apple (Ang Katakam-takam na Atis)

by giselletellstales

I am dreaming of our Atis tree in the garden of our Manila home. That’s right, I’m reminiscing about it in the middle of a Scottish winter. This could possibly be due to the Elizabeth Blackadder painting I saw of it at a recent exhibition (see my previous blog post here), or my mother’s constant mention of the tree itself during our video conversations. She deems it the most abundant tree in the garden that took root after a previous helper spread seeds in the soil after lunchtime, as she was not keen on food being wasted [they were (inedible) seeds but she still could not throw them away].

Its long name has rhythm, and can be easily overlooked: Annona Squamosa. It is a round green or dark red fruit with a bumpy texture similar to the hat of an acorn. You can find it in the tropics – most especially in Southeast Asian countries, India or the Carribean. It tastes very much like a pear, but with a subtle nutty flavour. With creamy, custard-y flesh, it can be eaten fresh, and it has potential to be a winning summer drink: as a shake it is delicious and refreshing and a wonderful departure from the more popular mango or banana shakes.

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An atis is ripe when it gives way when squeezed a little. Eating one fresh can be a bit of a chore, as the sweet flesh is embraced around the seeds themselves. The seeds are inedible so have to be discarded (in your garden, if you have the tropical climate for it!)

An overlooked usage for the fruit and its tree components are said to heal ailments and  I remember an auntie in Baguio, north of the Philippines mentioning this when I stumbled upon these posts by Cebuano Herbsman and Justmejojo.

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I would conjure up a recipe to make a tart out of it if I manage to get my hands on some next summer. Moving onto the next level of my daydream: A sugar apple tart served with vanilla custard. It will be scrumptious.