It’s been a hot minute since I’ve had a random, never-seen-before, questionable looking fruit shoved in my face, but last night it happened again.
It was almost as if Carlos went out of his way to find me and ask me if I had ever had a zapote before.
“A za what?” I said
His eyes lit with excitement as he realized he would be the one to serve this gringa her first zapote ever.
And for good reason because it was so tasty. It was this tender, not-too-sweet fruit that tasted expensive and classy JUST like a fig yet soft and hearty like a cooked squash. I truly thought that I had seen and tasted all that there is to offer in Fila Naranjo after 16 months of living here, but this land is still full of surprises.
aka Rambutan aka some sort of cousin of the Lychee
You know it’s mamón chino season (happening now!) when the trees are filled with this Dr. Seuss-like fruit and the streets are covered in mamón peels (it’s fine, es “organico”). This juicy fruit is like crack and I tell ya before you know it you’ve already sucked down 40 of these cuties. They’re plump and fleshy and taste just like real sweet tarts and the level of sourness is always a delightful or disappointing surprise.
Palmito / Heart of Palm
When people ask me what my favorite food is in Costa Rica, I always know the answer: palmito. In case you’re a pine tree person like I am, you might not know that there are a wide variety of palm trees that offer different resources such as palm oil, coconuts, pejibayes, and palmito. Heart of palm is the inner core of certain smaller palm trees. After the trunk is cut down, the outer layer is stripped and the inner edible part is the palm vegetable. In the states, you can usually purchase canned heart of palm but here, we chop it up, saute it and make a picadillo (chopped side vegetable dish).
Maize / Corn
I know everyone knows all about corn but there’s something about this maize that makes it delicious. Costa Rica campo corn tastes less sweet and has a wild (gamey?) texture. It’s rough and kind of fibrous, which I love. Sometimes my host mom will just take a raw piece of corn and shove it in the fire, turn it a few times, and gnaw it down (whoa you crazy girl!). Other times, she’ll boil those cobbs up and make some real tasty chorreadas.
aka Star Apple aka Milk Fruit aka lil Galaxy
Peace Corps is all about learning experiences, and my first caimito is a fine example of just that. This caimito in particular was my first and last caimito. I was so excited by this newly discovered fruit that I had never seen before, I took a massive bite out of the side (exhibit A), only to be left with a group of bystanders staring at me awkwardly, much like the time I ate those inedible bitter raw cacao seeds. I proceeded to eat the skin despite warning only to be left with sticky, tingly lips for the entire day. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the skin is rich in latex. The caimito (without the skin) is in fact delicious and tastes like a milky less-acidic plum.