Lanzones are local berry-like fruits with light brown skin. The fruit itself is white inside. When ripe enough they have a subtle sweetness that tantalizes the taste buds and make them want to sample for more. But according to a local myth, it used to be a harmful fruit.
Before, according to the myth, the lanzones fruit was poisonous. The fruit looked edible enough, and in fact many were tempted to sample it. The myth says, the people wondered: How could anything that looked so good be so dangerous? Some people, despite the death toll, could not fight off the temptation once they see the fruits abundantly display themselves in clusters hanging invitingly on the lanzones tree. Several deaths in the village had been linked to eating its fruits, the myth adds.
One day, the myth says, a hungry old woman came to the village begging for food. The kind villagers gladly gave the old woman food and water and clothes to wear. They even offered her free lodging as long as she saw the need to stay with them. According to the myth, the woman was awed by the kindness of the villagers. One day, while staying with the people, she learned about the lanzones fruits that could not be eaten because they were poisonous. She asked the people where the tree was. They gladly obliged. Then, according to the myth, upon seeing the lanzones tree and its fruits, the old woman smiled knowingly. She announced to the people that the fruit was edible, to everyone’s wary delight.
She taught the villagers the proper way to pick, peel and eat the fruits of the lanzones tree. According to the myth, the old woman said that peeling the fruit by pinching it lets out a small amount of the white sticky sap from the fruit, and that served as an antidote to the poison of the fruit. Then, the myth says, she did it with a fruit and ate it. She did the same with another fruit, and another, and another. The myth says the villagers also discovered for themselves that the fruits were very edible and delicious. Since then, the villagers started planting more lanzones trees and it became a very lucrative source of income for everyone, the myth adds.
The Philippine myth on the lanzones tree and fruit reminds us that there is a proper procedure for doing things, even things untried before, to end up with a safe outcome.