Yesterday when I was young…

When I was small
and jambu trees were tall

…we had one in our garden – a guava (jambu) tree. I lived in a wooden house in the middle of a big compound then at the end of what-was-called Race Course Road. I never liked the jambu batu (stone guava) then – the fruits were small and hard and the seeds kept getting stuck in the teeth. The forked branches were excellent for making catapults though…and we had our share of fun with those then.

Then came a different variety – the Jepun jambu, we called it or translated, the Japanese jambu. These were a lot bigger and did not have so many seeds. No doubt there was a lot more to eat though not as fragrant and I think up till today, they are still very popular – sliced, seeds removed and eaten with sour plum (asamboi or sng boi) powder.

We also had a tree of these – I don’t know what they are called actually but owing to their resemblance to apples, I guess we can just call them jambu epal (apple guava)…

Jambu epal
*Gundot’s photo on Facebook*

We would make the sambal (dip) with belacan (dried prawn paste), chillies, sugar and soy sauce and seated on the wooden floor with my grandma, uncles and aunties and cousins, we would enjoy eating them while chatting and catching up with the latest gossips.

Unfortunately, I do not get to see these anymore these days but we do have another variety that is quite easily available still – the chui jambu  or jambu air (water guava)…

Jambu air

We also had a tree or two in our garden then but I did not like them very much. Most of the time, we would just let the fruits drop and rot. Well, believe or not, they are selling them in the market nowadays at RM12.00 a kg.

I had some the other day, and my missus and I ate them with this rojak paste…

Bandong rojak paste

…that they are selling at my regular Malay kuih stall at Bandong for RM3.70 each. I don’t know if it is better than those that my cousins bought in Penang but my missus loves it – it is VERY spicy and tastes good, much better than the bottled pre-mixed ones that they sell in the supermarts.

Ulam jambu air

…Now we are tall
and jambu trees are small
and you don’t ask the time of day
but you and I, our love would never die
and guess we’ll cry…come first of May