Saturday, July 26, 2008

five fruits

Fruit season has begun in an explosion of scents, colours and forms. I’ve encountered four fruits brand new to me this week and rediscovered another. The mangosteen tree is a beautiful triangular shaped tree with dark green shiny leaves, it reaches about 15 feet in height. The fruits are like a child’s drawing of ‘fruit’ – round and plump and purple with a pretty, leathery dark beige/purple cap. Opening the fruit reveals a soft intensely purple flesh which cushions three seeds enveloped in white goop, much like the cacao seeds have. It is this white goop that one eats. The taste is strong and to me it tasted like tamarind: tart, sweet and sour. I liked it very much but was sorry to see so much of the fruit was inedible.
The second fruit grows on what looks like a cecropia tree. The fruits grow in clusters and look like large muscadet grapes. They too have sweet white flesh surrounding a hard heart shaped seed which dries with a green coppery tint. We can’t find the fruit in any books or on the internet, but we believe it comes from Brazil. There are several trees growing in ordered rows in an old established orchard, so we know they are edible!
The third fruit is either a gnip or a local lychee depending on who you ask. It is smallish, green and slightly ovoid and grows in clusters. I don’t know what the tree looks like but the leaf is long and pointed, and leathery, a little like a eucalyptus. Inside the thin green shell the flesh is tan and soft and surrounds a hard egg elliptical seed. Very sweet and juicy.
The fourth fruit is nanci. These small round fruits grow on large stately trees. The fruits look like large currants and are orangey yellow. Inside the flesh is again a clearish white and surrounds a single small black pip. They are not so sweet and the ones I had tasted overripe to me, in fact they tasted of blue cheese! In Guanacaste these fruits are much larger, about the size of kumquats, here 15 would fit on my palm.
The fifth fruit is breadfruit. In the past I’ve waited for these fruits to become soft before I opened them. This time I cooked it as a vegetable. George says, “when there’s breadfruit, don’t need no bread”, and he’s right. I shallow fried thin slices with garlic and chili, the taste was fabulous, like overly soft fried potatoes, but smoother and with more taste. Difficult to describe. And very filling.