Strange Fruit

For one month, Awamaki was lucky enough to host 15 students from Lakeside High School in Seattle, Washington to come down and volunteer with us over the course of three weeks. A team of them were able to create some blog articles for us about various aspects of their experiences, this is one of their finished products!

 

By Virgil

Throughout the markets of Peru, there are a variety of fruit being sold, ranging from the familiar, such as apples, mangoes, and oranges, to the exotic, with bright colors, unique tastes, and interesting textures. The markets buzz with vendors calling out to passersby, trying to sell these fruits by the kilo, and the possibilities of fruits to buy is endless. As we walked through the markets here in Ollantaytambo, we found three native Peruvian fruits to explain to you today!

“Granadilla” is an orange fruit filled with grey, slimy seeds that frankly, look like frog eggs. The outside is a hard shell, but it is easily breakable with one’s thumb. The seeds are eaten whole, like a pomegranate, but can also be eaten one by one, with a spoon, or by just sucking them out of the shell. The seeds have a mild tart, sweet taste, but the aftertaste is very bitter, so I personally don’t love them. Additionally, the texture is very slimy and not terribly pleasant. You could say that I’m not really a fan of this fruit, but some other people in Ollanta swear by them. I suppose it’s a matter of taste, and I would still recommend trying it, as trying new food is never a bad thing to do, and you just may like it!

“Tuna,” or cactus fruit, is a vibrant orange fruit with a greenish-orange peel. It is peeled similarly to a mango, but the peel has thousands of tiny hair-like spines that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Although, these spines are stiff enough to puncture skin, so I would advise peeling it with gloves or a washcloth, rather than holding it in your bare hand. The fruit itself is very similar to a melon, but with a slightly milder taste. The texture is slightly tougher, and it is filled with very tough, tiny seeds. The seeds are somewhat of a nuisance, but too plentiful to make it worth avoiding them or spitting them out, so you have to just embrace it. I did like this fruit over all, even with the seeds.

The “Cherimoya”, or custard apple, is a green fruit that can range in size from a lacrosse ball to slightly larger than a softball. With a mottled exterior and a white, fleshy interior, it is quite a striking fruit. The outside is very soft, and easily torn to access the very soft, juicy flesh inside. The taste of cherimoya is very sweet with a hint of tartness, incomparable to any other fruit I’ve ever had. With a creamy texture similar to custard (hence the English name), the cherimoya is a pleasure to eat, and is officially endorsed by Mark Twain, who called it “the greatest fruit known to men.” It is eaten by ripping off small parts of the fruit and eating the inside, similar to honeydew melon. The seeds of the cherimoya are large black seeds that are not edible, akin to a watermelon. Overall, this is definitely my favorite fruit of the three here, or maybe even my favorite fruit, period.

Trying new foods is an essential part to any experience of a new culture; especially Peru, where food is so important. I am glad to have had the opportunity to try these foods. Through this process, I found one of my favorite fruits of all time, and can never forget the feeling when I first bit into a cherimoya. Now, when I return to my home in Seattle, I will be sure to try new foods, and, with any luck, find some cherimoya in the States.