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Red fruit or pandanas is a fruit that is endemic to our island. In the tribal language, this fruit is called dagu. It grows on a tree that is covered with small spikes. The tree has long leaves that have ragged and sharp ends. When the wind blows through these trees, my mom says it sounds like they are clapping. The fruit itself is covered in hundreds of little red seeds; it doesn’t have a peel or skin. The seeds just stick out unprotected. Dagu is unlike fruit that you can just eat and enjoy; you wouldn’t try to eat dagu raw. There is a long process to preparing it.
First of all, they use a ci'ne' to split the dagu down the middle several times so that there are a few long slices. The ci'ne' is made from the thighbone of a pig. Then, they use another tool to scrape out the middle, so just the seeds and flesh of the fruit remain. After that, they put it in a pot to boil. Once it is soft, they take it all out and put it on an nggebak. The nggebak is something like a long wooden tray with raised sides. They put the dagu on this and add a little water. Then they begin to puree it with one hand. They mash it and squish it and continue to add water. Soon, it looks like red oatmeal or tomato puree but brighter red. Once it is the right consistency, they stop adding water. Men always prepare dagu, so the man preparing it then grabs a handful and squeezes. All the thick juice comes out and the seeds are left in his hand. He throws these seeds away and repeats the process until he has almost all the seeds out. After he finishes with this process, the dagu is ready to eat.
They use the leaves of the tree to make something like a spoon. They have a very interesting tradition of starting from the ends of the nggebak and eating their way inward. There aren’t many cultural blunders or ways of being rude in our tribal culture, but eating the dagu the wrong way will surely raise some eyebrows. Dagu has a very peculiar taste. It is different from anything else that I've tasted, so I won't even try to explain it. However, we all have come to love it. You eat a big bite, strain and swallow the red goodness, and spit out any remaining seeds. The pigs love those seeds.
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