Seasons of the Manongs
From co-editor Asela Lee Kemper: “Seasons of the Mangongs” by Zach FR Anderson focuses on the importance of Filipino migrant workers. Anderson brings an honest look into the manongs–– first generation Pinoys who arrived in America in the 1930s to work in the fields–– and the produce which defined their migratory seasons. This is “Seasons of the Manongs” by Zach FR Anderson.
Strawberries (January-July): Be careful. They won’t sell if they’re bruised. Pick from the stems but be sure not to pick too much stem. They grow low to the ground, don’t bend at the knees or you won’t make the quota. Despite what the Beatles said, strawberry fields end on the side of the 101 in a wooden stand for five dollars.
Citrus (January-October): This is the steadiest work–– steady enough for your kids to make friends at school. Bad fruit falls to the ground and rots into the earth. Bugs love them. Wear long sleeves to defend from bites–– you’ll feel them in the morning. Charlie Chaplin’s studio was built across the freeway from an orange grove. But his films were in black and white.
Tomatoes (July-November): I used to think that tomatoes ruined everything they were in, even BLTs–– what’s wrong with a BL or just B? But The best time to eat tomatoes is in the beginning of summer. The acidic liquid stays inside the flesh and the seeds add a pop of spice. A pinch of salt and pepper do wonders. If they’re out of season, they’ll be grainy and bland. My aunt’s first job was picking tomatoes. After two months she earned a hundred dollars. My great grandfather picked her up and she showed him the crisp hundred-dollar bill with pride. “This is mine!” she said with excitement. “It’s mine and nobody else’s!” He grabbed it from her and threw it out the window. “What you make, you make for all of us.” She started to cry.
Grapes (September-November): According to the Santa Barbara County Vintners Association, there are over 200 wineries in the county. Two hundred wineries own 21,349 acres where they grow grapes which are harvested by 9,158 people(1). Most of those acres are dedicated to chardonnay(2). Unlike table grapes, wine grapes have thicker skin and larger seeds(3). They are also smaller than table grapes. They’re sweeter and taste nothing like the wine they become. In 2016, Santa Barbara’s wine industry was a $1.7 billion business(4).
(1) My great grandparents had nine children
(2) Wine of choice of the real housewives of Orange County
(3) Look for cotton candy grapes at the supermarket–– they exist
(4) The minimum wage that year in California was $10.00/hr. In 1966 it was $1.30/hr
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Zachary FR Anderson
Chopsticks Alley Pinoy Contributor
Zachary FR Anderson is SoCal born and NorCal raised. He is an Occidentalist, writer, and lover of books. He resides in Sacramento.