When I was in LA a few weeks ago and marvelling at the produce bounty at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, I came across an odd fruit at the “avocado guys” stand. They assured me it was fragrant, succulent, delicious and ready to eat. The big question was, what kind of fruit was it?
My friend J. immediately recognized it as a cherimoya. A what? I nursed it back to New York and, as evidence of it almost going beyond ripe, plunged in a knife and sampled the papaya textured white flesh. Ahhh-mazing. It was exactly as described, sweet and juicy, delicious.
Which prompted me to do a minor bit of research. Guess what? It has a “distant affinity” to the paw paw and is also known as a custard apple. It goes dark brown when over-ripe… err… so I guess mine was over ripe but yummy nonetheless, plus its apparently really nice if you freeze it and eat it as an icecream-like substance. (Note to self: remember this for future cherimoya cherishing.)
According to the California Rare Fruit Growers website, “Though unusual in appearance, cherimoyas are readily accepted by western tastes and has become a favorite tropical fruit. Demand greatly exceeds supply in all U.S. markets as most fruit never leaves California, the only producing state.” Apparently cherimoyas are native to the Andes, so perhaps we’ll see them in Peru on our upcoming trip.
You can consult their excellent online resource on chrimoyas at http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/cherimoya.html, and may i recommend sinking your teeth into this one if you see it at a rare fruit stand in your ‘hood.