Friday, December 21, 2012

What the heck is that? Guanabana

We were walking through Sunset Park, a neighborhood in Brooklyn that includes a large Mexican community. Fifth Avenue, one of the area's main drags, has many street vendors. Naturally, the fruit stands caught my eye -  one in particular.

It offered the usual apples, bananas, grapes and pears - and this armadillo-like fruit.

What manner of alien life was this?

What the heck was it?

Many years ago I discovered cherimoyas, a luscious tropical fruit that looks like this:

Will I hatch into a dinosaur? (Image courtesy of Hannes Grobe, Wikipedia)

Was it a kissing cousin to the mystery fruit on this unassuming fruit cart? The cherimoya is famously delicious, with nicknames like "the ice cream fruit" and a fan base that includes Mark Twain, who reportedly called the cherimoya "the most delicious fruit known to men." 

I was curious about the mystery fruit's interior - would it resemble the cherimoya, creamy and custardy?

Inside the cherimoya: Custard! Custard with seeds! (Image courtesy of Hannes Grobe, Wikipedia)

The fruit vendor was not much help. He said he didn't know the name of the fruit and said he stocked a few of them each week so that customers who had special occasions could impress their friends with a very special fruit. I saw the sign that said $6 and I decided Your Intrepid Reporter needed to invest in further investigation. "No, no, no!" the vendor exclaimed when I handed over my money. "$6 per pound. $24 total. I know, very expensive." I am not so intrepid. I put the fruit back next to the apples on the cart.

Another customer started chatting. "I know this fruit. I am from Jamaica, and we grow it there. It's called soursop,"  I had heard the word 'soursop' but I never associated it with a luscious fruit.  It sounded like a corny insult: he ruined the party for everyone because he was a soursop.  I certainly had never met one in the flesh. I used my phone right away to check it out.

Soursop, courtesy of Wikipedia

It was a match! Wikipedia also tipped me off to various other names by which this fruit might be known, including pawpaw and guanabana. "Si, guanabana!" another vendor chimed in. Mystery solved.

Sadly, the real mystery, how this promising and fabled fruit tasted, would have to wait for another day. A day when $1 change would be given for a twenty and a five and it would be fine. 

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