What does gooseberry mean to Keralites?
Go to any vegetable and fruit market in Kerala in September/October, and you will surely be attracted by the pile of fresh looking gooseberries. Keralites are so much related to this fruit, that anyone born and brought up in Kerala will have a nostalgic `taste' on his tongue – the taste of water taken soon after eating a gooseberry.
That taste lingers in the imagination of Keralites so much that it made the poet and Jnanpith Awardee ONV Kurup to refer to it in one of his popular poems, `Moham.'
It is again connected with the Malayali psyche through a proverb which draws a comparison between the elders' advice and the taste of gooseberries. It says that just like the taste of gooseberry – which is bitter first and then tastes sweet, the elders' advice won't seem to be acceptable first, but later it will turn out to be the leading light.
Gooseberry tree is cultivated in many parts of India and a variety called star gooseberries can be seen commonly in the residential areas of Kerala. In India it is such a popular fruit that almost all regional languages has a word coined for gooseberry. While Hindi-speaking North Indians call it amla, usirikayi is the Telugu word for it. It is called amlaki in Bengali and Nellikka in Malayalam. The fruit has rich Vitamin C content, and it is used for skin ayurvedic treatment.