Thursday, November 20, 2008

Looking for the Elusive Biyasong

In August 2007, I went to Davao and got introduced to local lime called biyasong. Initially I found the fruit to be inferior in taste compared to calamansi (Citrofortunella microcarpa) and it has a peculiar smell and after taste ( i equate the smell to anghit and gilik but Minnie Rosel, my boss in Heritage Park, blurted out the right word for it, amoy ipis). The succeeding dozes of its sub acid taste eventually led to my developed liking for the fruit. I got more interested when I found out that the biyasong is commonly used in Visayan and Mindanao kinilaws).

Biyasong is said to be a native lime. Ponchit Enrile gave me the scientific name Citrus hystrix var. micrantha for it. But some horti people I asked would equate it to to Citrus micrantha. Ponchit also told me of another citrus lime from Cebu named samuyao (Citrus micrantha var. microcarpa).

Early 2008 I got the chance to return to Davao, hoping to see glimpses of actual trees of some fruits, including biyasong. Through the kindness of Ronnie Serrano, I got to snap pics of durian and some other trees. But the biyasong was nowhere in sight. Ronnie said that biyasong seedlings are usually available during garden shows, but it seems on a january day biyasong is a rarer occurence than marang, durian or suha (all of which are commonly available September and August come Kadayawan Festival). Ponchit Enrile says that biyasong in Davao is usually brought in literally by sacksful to palengkes. I thought that my last resort is to see if biyasong is sold in the local market.

Ronnie obliged us with a visit to the biggest market in Davao, Bankerohan. The seasonal (not in season that time) durian and suha were sold there along with marang, pakwan, mangga, papaya and some other minor fruits. We also saw dry goods, candied durian and mangosteen, plastic utensils. There were no biyasong in the fruit stands so we decided to go deeper into the market place - to the vegetable section.

Bangkerohan Market was made up of large selling sections. At the far end of the roadway there was the large veggie area. The colors green, red and orange came to our field of vision. Scanning through all the sold produce (and after a lot of squinting) we finally spotted the biyasong fruit. Note: there was only one stand selling biyasong at that moment. I thought it was common fare in davao markets, but it seems a few of the sellers know about the local lime. I bought the few pieces available with a cheap price of 3 pcs per 5 pesos.

The veggie section of Bangkerohan was brightly colored with red and orange produce. There was less greens that afternoon. Majority of the stalls were selling tomatoes and sili. A capsicum variety that caught my eye was the green medium sized chili pepper called espada. I inquired how much they were and the price was 5 per 'guhit'. I curiously bought 20 pesos worth and surprisingly I got a very generous portion. Maybe it has been too long since i have been to a market place. I thought I wouldn't spend time toiling under the sun, tending the pepper plants just to harvest that much espadas for 20 pesos. We really don't give much credit to the people who fill our food baskets.

The espada chili however got much rave in our house, eventhough I brought back malongs, tubaws, coconut wood vases, a small pearl bracelet, suha, marang, durian and mangosteen candies and a lot of hoyas (aside from the biyasong loot).

The next week i showed biyasong to my graduate classmate Angie (who used to work as a landscape architect for MMDA) which she easily recognized and said is popularly used for kinilaw dishes in their native Surigao. I thought that i looked at the wrong place to find the biyasong tree. I asked Minnie Rosel if she heard of biyasong (since her parents also hail from Surigao). She couldn't recall but she tells me of the local lime she tasted in Cagayan de Oro with the strange cockroach smell. But she can't remember it being called biyasong. i am assuming it is the same plant.

I just had to content myself with biyasong fruits I bought from Bangkerohan. I planted the seeds and 10 months after, I now have seedlings about a foot in height.


Ildefonso Boboy Bandoma Vista said...

Magandang gabi po. Si Ildefonso Vista po ito ng Vista Home Garden Kitchen - Tanay Plant Nursery. Saan po kaya makakabili ng seedlings ng Kaffir Lime? Please email me at kung magkaron po kayo ng pagkakataon salamat po.

Towkay said...

Hi Patrick, I found your posts on biasong and sumayao super interesting! Given the extreme similarities, I wonder if they are somehow cultivars of c. hystrix (makrut). Do the leaves have the same unmistakable aroma?

If so, it seems to make sense that even in PI, they may not be as cultivated as makrut if they are so similar as to be interchangeable.

Aloha from Oahu,

Dann said...

If u want to taste biasong or buy contact me 09102415360 or send me msg in FB LLagas, DNE... unforgettable taste in kinilaw...

Kai said...

Hello, i just want to ask. Very confusing. What are the difference between kaffir lime and biyasong lime? How about the scent, leaves and taste? Please someone can help me?

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