Fruits of Colombia (en)
Once again a long break for various reason; feeling lazy one of them. Or maybe I am not lazy. I'm becoming more naturalized, more local. Here in Colombia, especially in Costeño region everything takes a while and patience is the virtue I get to practice every day.
This blog post is educational. Colombia has such a variety of exotic fruits that it deserves its own post. Moreover, I take great pleasure in discovering new tastes and when shopping for the new fruit I get to talk to the vendors. It's been really good for my Spanish practice. Most of the times they are really surprised that in my country I don't get to buy such kind of fruit and that it's going to be my first time to taste it. I also asked them how to eat it – you're never sure if you should peel it or just wash it or if it's better to eat or use it for juice. So here we go. (The fruit is presented in alphabetical order).
Anón (sugar apple)
This is my favorite fruit for its looks. I bought it from a vendor who sold them based on their size (small/medium/large). I decided to take one medium. The fruit was very soft and very fragile. By the time I got to my apartment, it started falling apart. The taste was good. Very sweet, texture similar to pear. However, it was very messy to eat – take it apart piece by piece and spit out the black seeds.
Carambola (star fruit)
Another pretty fruit. The very first time I came across it, was in a bar as a decoration on the rim of a glass. Thought the fruit is very aesthetically pleasing, the taste is nothing special. It's a bit tart a crunchy. I guess it'd be nicer as a part of a fruit salad.
I found this exotic-looking fruit on the cart of the street vendors. I asked what it was called and how to eat it and went home. When I looked up the name in a dictionary, I found out that 'cirueala' means plum. They tasted nothing like any plums I know from home. They were rather dry and bland and there was no real substance – you can see how big the pit is.
Granadilla (passion fruit)
It was the very first one of the exotic Colombian fruits I tasted. It was still in Bogotá and I just watched how others ate it and basically copied them. Granadilla has a crunchy outer shell (it's fun to open them) and the funny-looking inside. My friends compared it to frogs eggs. If you can get over the look and the texture, it tastes nice and sweet and if you chew the seeds they are crunchy.
A scary-looking guanabana is one of my favorite juices. The fruit looks like an animal or like an egg of a large and frightening animal. I bought this piece in a supermarket because the whole fruit is usually too big for one a party of one (3-7kg). The flesh reminded me a bit of a squid. The texture is firm and slimy but the taste is amazing. I read all the different descriptions and they say it's something like pineapple and banana. Well, I don't know but I could never pick up on velvety structures or hints of gooseberry or raspberry flavors in any wine I ever tried so I'm not the right person to talk about tastes.
By the look at it, you might confuse it with an ordinary pear. But once you open it, it's nothing like it. Well, the texture might be like the one of a pear but the smell, the smell is amazing. When I cut it open, I didn't eat it right away and my room just smelled delicious. However, the taste was disappointing. The hard seeds are a bit annoying and the taste not really dominant. After a short consult with my Colombian friend, I prepared guayaba juice and it was a different story. I made it water (though Colombians love to prepare most of the juices with milk), sieved the seeds and I liked it quite a lot. I can imagine it in combination with some other fruits as a filling morning smoothie.
Another favorite juice. Until very recently, I didn't know what lulo looked like. I found it in a supermarket and got only one piece basically for the purposes of this photo shoot as Colombians recommended lulo solely as a juice. After a bit of googling I found out, I can eat it. And I liked it. The taste reminded me of kiwi a bit but not so tart. I'm definitely going to buy lulo more often.
Mamones (Spanish lime, Limoncillo)
I bought it in the streets and once got it from Colombian friends who have a tree in their backyard. You shouldn't buy it when you're hungry and want something more substantial. It's more like a treat as you suck on it like on a hard-boiled candy. The texture is slimy and slippery and if it's not ripe enough it kind of stick to your mouth. The taste is very nice and sweet.
I know we know mango and once in a while we can buy it in a supermarket (by the way, don't do it, it tastes nothing like the fresh one) but because I'm living in the city of mango trees, I decided to mention it anyway. And for your information, there are many different kinds of mangoes. My students at school could name at least 7 different types without thinking too hard about it.
Maracuya (passion fruit)
At the moment my absolutely favorite. It looks almost the same as granadilla but the shell is tougher and the inside juicier and tarter. I love to scoop up the seeds and eat them as they are but once again Colombians prefer it in a juice. I like it as juice especially when blended with papaya (see further below).
If anón was the nicest looking, nispero is the ugliest one. It looks a lot like a potato. The inside is soft with only 4 relatively large seeds. But the taste was delicious, super sweet and it reminded me of honey. I also liked that it was easy to eat.
I'd known papaya before but I started to really like it here. I guess papaya belongs to the category of so-called acquired tastes (like olives – the more you it, the more you like it). For me it's like a cantaloupe melon and I love to eat it for breakfast with my oats or in smoothies when combined with other fruits with more dominant citrusy flavor.
Pithaya (dragon fruit)
It's really cool-looking and it tastes nice as well. It's a bit like a kiwi – mostly for its texture and the seeds, it tastes much sweeter though. Apparently, you should be careful how much of it you eat – my friend advise me not to eat more than half of one at once because it's a laxative. As I liked the fruit and I didn't want to store the other half of it, I decided to take my chance and I ate it all. Nothing happened.
Tomate de árbol (tree tomato)
As the name says it, the fruit looks like a tomato (but grows in trees) and it also taste a bit like it. There are three different colors (dark red or almost purple – as in the photo, then exactly the color of tomatoes and there's yellow too). Personally not my favorite at all. When eaten by itself, it's rather unpleasant. It's a bit better when served as a juice but I guess all the added sugar takes away its natural taste.
The list is by no means complete; there are many more for us unknown and exotic fruits in Colombia. I'll continue discovering and once I have more new kinds in my database, I'll post an update.