Frutas Exoticas!

I have learned about exotic fruits mostly from my travels to Latin America and living in Brazil. And they are delicious!! Dr. Tanya’s 5 Things topic this week is exotic fruits!!

  1. Part of the time I spent in Brazil was in the northeastern city of Natal, the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Norte. My now ex-husband taught at the university there. I didn’t have a job and although we had a car, he drove because I was petrified of driving in Brazil – I still am! So many afternoons I would lie in a hammock on our veranda and drink fresh fruit juices. (Tough life, eh?!) We made these ourselves – all you do is cut up the fruit and blend it in a blender. I guess it was more like a smoothie.

It so happened that our next door neighbor, separated by a wall between us, had a papaya tree that was right next to that wall. One day, it produced a large papaya which dropped from the tree into our yard! So we claimed it and ate it right away. (I never much liked papaya, but when it’s fresh, it’s wonderfully juicy and smooth!)

Brazilian papayas are much larger than the ones imported from Mexico that we have in the U.S.

2. Probably the most unusual fruit, at least for those of us who live in temperate climates, is the caju (cashew in English). All we get here are the nuts (which I love!) but they also have a fruit attached to them. The juice from the cashew fruit isn’t that great, but I’m including it here for its “exoticness” and because I like cashews!

Incidentally, the largest cashew tree in the world is in Natal! My ex and I visited it one day, and although I have photos of it in a moldy old photo album somewhere, I am posting this one downloaded from Google Images. (They’ve really modernized it by making paths through it – there were no wooden paths when we went.)

The cashew tree doesn’t grow tall – it just spreads out and looks like a small forest from the outside! When a long, snaky branch gets heavy and touches the ground, eventually roots grow underneath it, creating a new, “daughter” tree!

Here is the fruit, called an apple in English. Brazilians don’t usually eat the fruit, but they make juice out of it.

The cashew nut is easy to identify!

3. The carambola, or star fruit, is shaped like a star! You slice it as you would a kiwi, and eat the juicy slices! It is possible sometimes to find this fruit in American supermarkets.

4. Fruta de conde is a fruit not available here, but in Puerto Rico and other Central American countries you can find a variation of it, called guanabana. It contains large black seeds which are easy to remove as you eat the mild, sweet white flesh. Ice cream made from this fruit is wonderful too!

The Brazilian fruta de conde is rather small, about the size of an artichoke (which it sort of resembles from the outside!), but the guanabana of Central America is quite a bit larger.

5. For the last one, it was hard to decide between passion fruit and guava, both of which are absolutely wonderful! If you have never tried passion fruit juice, you can find it in the international section of your supermarket – sometimes – and you will develop a passion for this fruit too!

Maracuja, as passion fruit is called in Portuguese, is very popular to use in the most famous Brazilian cocktail – caipirinha! This drink is made with cachaça (very strong but kind of sweet alcohol), sugar, ice, and maracuja. It’s great with vodka or rum too!!

Four years ago, when my husband Dale and I went to Brazil, I ordered this drink several times, always with passion fruit, but you can get them made from most any fruit, including mango, lime (traditional), guava, etc.

Because it was a tie between passion fruit and guava, I will include guava too! My late sister-in-law lived in Hawaii, and when we went to visit her, I would pick guavas right off the tree in front of her house and bite into them! Guava skin is meant to be eaten with the fruit. My ex-husband’s grandmother made really good jam from guava.

I prefer the pink guava, but the yellow/white is good too.

There are many other fruits I could write about, (mango, jaca, acai, etc.) but this challenge was for 5 (or 6, ahem) things!

All photographs in this post were downloaded from Google Images.

9 thoughts on “Frutas Exoticas!

  1. Growing up we had a huge mango tree that had fruit most of the year, a huge avocado tree that had the largest avocados, a guava tree, and papaya trees. I took them for granted but miss them so much now. Nothing like picking ripe fruit warm off a tree.

  2. Part of the fun of travelling is sampling exotic cuisines and fruit.

    I have had your choice no 4 under the name ‘custard apple’ or ‘sharifa’ as it is called in urdu, my native language.

    I have had cashew nuts all my life but never realised that they also had an edible fleshy counterpart. Thanks for enlightening me.

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