In most Bengali households, in the past, we were refrained from eating kool (baer or Indian jujube) before Saraswati Puja or the Basant Panchami arrived. We never asked our parents why we shouldn’t but followed their advice as we didn’t want to incur the wrath of Ma Saraswati on us, we were school goers. Moreover, those days Google Assistant was not around to ask.
For the ivory-skinned goddess dressed in a white sari seated on a swan and holding a veena is the epitome of knowledge, learning and wisdom.
All these came to my mind while I was picking up kool from the roadside which the tree had shed. January and February is the season when kool appears in the market.
The local varieties of kool have long vanished from fruit carts and even from fruit mandis for the preference now is for Apple Bhor of Baer which looks like a miniature version of the green coloured apple. They have a shiny look but are tasteless. Yes, they are crunchy like the apple. Whoever innovated Apple Bhor failed to make it sweet! And that is its undoing. I feel sorry for the present-day kids who will never see them. As for me, I would prefer eating a piece of cardboard than bite an Apple Bhor.
Apple Bhor is a Thailand variety fruit and the farmer grows it as he gets a good price. Its claimed to be pest resistant. Fruits are big and it has more shelf life. It yields twice a year and the crop time can be adjusted based on the market demand.