I can not eat avocado without thinking about my lola Paquit, my maternal grandmother. Up until I was eight years old Sundays, almost without fail, were spent at grandparents house 3 blocks away from where we lived. More often than not, us 4 kids would even be dropped off there as early as Friday night to spend the weekend, impatient for Saturday morning so we can climb down backstairs to visit with the neighborhood kids and get lost in the vast public school grounds next door playing from sun up to sundown. Sunday lunch, my parents would come over and the dining table would be packed with eight heads sitting around it. My favorite would be the staple 2 family size bottle of Pepsi (or other soda brands, I liked 7-Up of Sprite better) and if avocadoes are in season, the avocado-mango-banana (mixed with evaporated milk and a little sugar) salad for dessert.
When I was in the second grade both my grandparents retired, my lolo Mando (grandfather) from his work as cashier for Philippine National Bank and my lola Paquit from her job as a Home Economics teacher. They moved back to Bicol, where they were born, grew up, got married and bore 3 children until the youngest child, my mom, turned 7 years old and my grandfather was assigned to the visayas and ended up staying there with his family for more than 25 years. From that time on, we would see my grandparents every summer and christmas vacation via a 12 hour plus bus ride or by plane. The avocado-mango-banana fruit salad dessert would still be served but with an addition, chopped glazed pili nuts.
with my lola Paquit and lolo Mando. I was already working in Manila (1997ish) when this photo was taken. I paid my grandparents a surprise visit for lolo’s birthday. Took a 10 hour busride going there and a horrible train ride going back to Manila.
The other day, after never getting around to making rice-avocado-apple nori wrapped quick lunch, I decided to eat the almost over ripe avocado for snacks with banana, but it didn’t taste right without the mango. So today I got champagne mangoes, diced it, diced the avocado, sliced the bananas, mixed in ricemilk (I think soymilk and, even better almond milk will work as well), brown rice syrup (maple syrup will work as well too), tapioca pearls and chopped walnuts. It makes for a very heavy dessert. So heavy that I made it a meal into itself.
It wasn’t only until now that I realized that I took forgranted that all filipino family are familiar with the avocado-mango-banana salad. When I look back at the years I spent in the Philippines, the lunches I have been invited over at another people’s houses, the parties I have attended, the cafeterias and restaurants I have eaten, I can not recall seeing avocado-mango-banana salad. Maybe it’s because not a lot of people are crazy over avocadoes… I don’t know. But for me, it has always been part of my growing up years and something that will always bring with it happy memories.