Colombian fruit, of the dragon and passion varieties

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What is this scaly-looking yellow thing? It’s a fruit of the dragon variety!

Today: dragon fruit and passion fruit, or Part II of Eating My Way Through the Tropical Fruits of Colombia. During lunch on Wednesday, I looked up to find snow/freezing slush pelting against the window, so it seems a good time to remind myself that I was recently someplace very warm, and it will soon be very warm again. Although even then, Ithaca will not be growing any of these:

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This wrinkled little beauty is a maracuya, the second kind of passion fruit I tried in Colombia. While the granadilla I mentioned in my recent post is sweet, the maracuya is sour and makes a REALLY excellent juice. The seeds were also excellent stirred into  lightly sweetened plain yogurt for breakfast (the yogurt came in small plastic milk-jug-shaped bottles, white with blue writing, although I don’t remember anything so useful as a brand name). My friend, our host, said she finds them too sour for eating out of hand, although if you like sour things it would probably be right up your alley. The goo around the seeds (mmm, appetizing, no?) is orange:

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When selecting a passion fruit, you don’t need to hold out for a nice smooth, unwrinkled one. Actually, wrinkles are good: they mean it’s ripe. Which brings me to the third kind of passion fruit I tried:

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So, I was warned. My friend said these weren’t ripe, and I went ahead and bought one anyway, because I wanted to try as many kinds of fruit as I could! And it was fuzzy! And about the size, shape, and color of a pickling cucumber! So appealing.

Anyway, this is a curuba, or banana passion fruit. They are supposed to be yellow when ripe (and yes, slightly fuzzy, that’s normal). If you try to eat them when they’re green, like I did, they’ll be inedibly sour. But pretty! Presumably they are tasty when actually ripe.

And finally, getting back to the odd yellow football at the top of the post:

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This one is not a kind of passion fruit, it’s a pitahaya, or dragon fruit. They grow on cacti in the genus Hylocereus and I really just did not understand their appeal until I ate one in Colombia. US grocery stores sometimes sell a hot pink variety, and Trader Joe’s even sells dried dragon fruit slices; the fresh ones I’ve had were watery and tasteless, and the dried ones were crunchy and tasteless. Someone brought the dried ones on a hike, and we all agreed that it was like chewing on cardboard.

But! This one in Colombia was good. I cut it in half and we scooped out the flesh with a spoon (don’t eat the yellow skin). The seeds were crunchy and a little bit nutty, and the fruit tasted almost exactly like a peeled red seedless grape: sweet, juicy, and crisp. Not the most remarkable taste, but good, and its unusual appearance made it pretty fun to eat.

How about you? Have you ever tried dragon fruit? Anyone want to contradict my harsh judgement of US dragon fruits as completely tasteless?

What to eat for breakfast in Colombia

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You don’t really need to read this post, just, if you find yourself in Colombia for breakfast, eat these. Eat as many of them as you can.

OK, let’s back up. I just spent 10 days in and around Medellín, Colombia. I ate as many varieties of tropical fruit as I could get my hands on, naturally, as a public service to you so I could tell you all about them.

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This is a granadilla. It’s a sweet variety of passionfruit with a hard, orange-spotted shell. They look like… space maracas? Dinosaur eggs? Very cool, is what I’m saying. And they taste amazing too.

Most passionfruits (more on them later) are a little sweet and a lot sour. Granadillas are not sour at all. Apparently in Colombia they’re a popular fruit for kids’ lunch boxes, because they’re sweet, easy to like, and easy to crack open with your fingers (no utensils needed) and eat with minimal mess.

The edible part of the granadilla includes the black seeds, which are crunchy, and the clear juicy pulp surrounding the seeds. A granadilla tastes like a passionfruit with most of the sourness removed. The outer orange shell and the foamy white layer lining the shell are not edible (that I know of).

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It has cool little white tubules connecting each individual seed to the inside wall of the fruit!

And the breakfast part was a bit misleading. They are also good for lunch, dinner, elevensies, tea, the meal indicating recovery from paragliding-induced motion sickness, and any time at all, really.

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