Ark of taste
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Pahutan, Panggi

Pajo (or paho) is one of the Tagalog names for Mangifera altissima, a tree in the family Anacardiaceae that grows in lowland forests throughout the Philippines as well as in eastern Malaysia and Indonesia (its name in Malay is medang kok), Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. It is also known as pahutan (its other Tagalog name) and panggi (in Negros Occidental Province). It is closely related to the mango (Mangifera indica), though its fruits are much smaller and it is less susceptible to pests. The pajo tree is an evergreen with shiny, elliptic, dark green leaves up to 40 centimeters long, and smooth, brown bark. It grows to a height of 12-35 meters. The fruit, which hangs from the tree on a long stem, is an ovoid drupe 5-8 centimeters long and weighing about 40 grams. It is light green ripening to pale yellow, contains a large seed, and has resinous, fibrous flesh.

In addition to growing in forests, the pajo is found in villages and yards, and this is where it is most frequently harvested. It is not grown commercially (mostly because it is not suitable for export) but is used as rootstock for M. indica. The wood is used as a building material and in cabinetry (as well as for backyard charcoal making) but is not available in large quantities. The fruits are only available between March and May and are usually harvested green and then pickled in a basic salt brine and stored in the fridge to be used after the fruiting season has ended. Green pajo is quite sour and astringent, and the fruits sweeten only slightly when ripe. The pickles are often served with fish or meat, and raw pajo is used in various salads or eaten on its own with salt. The ripe fruits are eaten raw and can be used to make marmalade.

The IUCN lists M. altissima as vulnerable because it is not abundant anywhere in its range and is threatened by habitat loss. Pajo fruits are much sought after in the Philippines and are available in local markets during the harvest season. Because it is not plentiful, pajo is quite expensive and supply rarely meets demand.

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