Crazy-Ass Tropical Fruits And Nuts Of Latin America (A Blogterspective)

August 20, 2011

Food, Coffee and Beer

There are so many amazing and bizarre tropical fruits in Latin America. And almost as many weird and wonderful Latin American Bloggers.

Anyone who knows me knows that I basically live for fruit. I am not sure if it was my childhood in the fruit bounty that is Washington state, my teenage years in the dreaded Southern California with its Citrus explosion or my adult years in the Bay Area with it’s plethora of fresh berries and stone fruits. I have seldom met a fruit I did not like. (although i am sure some have secretly disliked me- I saw them staring) My wife calls me a bear for my love of berries.

So one of my favorite things about living in El Salvador and traveling around Latin America is getting to try all sorts of great new fruits. And Latin America is absolutely thick with them. I do not have to make up a special mission to try them all because that is always my life mission. I will do almost anything to get fruit.

In our four months of living here we have been able to try quite a few kick-ass tropical fruits. What follows is:

the sordid tales of those fruit experiences.

And when I started thinking about crazy-ass tropical fruits my illogical second thought was about all the equally crazy-pants travel and expat bloggers who are just as nuts as we are. So this is my “WTF is he talking about this doesn’t make any sense he must be crazy” exploration of tropical fruits in Latin America matched up with their respective travel or expat blog nuts. Sort of a homage to our home state of California affectionately known as the “land of fruits and nuts.”

It won’t be brilliant. But it will be tasty. And I will take tasty over brilliant any day.

The Top 6 sexiest tropical fruits (and blogger nuts)

1) Nispero

nispero tropical fruit of el salvador

Nispero is ugly, but freaking awesome

Nispero is in my opinion the fruit of the Gods. I have become quite adept at picking the right nispero fruits at the local mercados. They don’t sell them in the super markets cause they are too damned tasty and ordinary people would freak out. It is a VERY unassuming fruit that does not waste its precious tasty juice on outward signs of fruit based glory. It is an unappealing darkish brown color that seems to tell you in cop speak “Nothing to eat here.” The skin is a rough, papery, finger-disturbingly unpleasant experience. it is slightly mushy and overly yielding when ripe. It’s very appearance, skin and color serve to shun any signs of appealing to the masses. All the better to eat you my dear!

But then if you make it past it’s rough and gruff outer shell inside you will find the most amazing combination of flavors.

No one who has not tried it believes me when I tell them that the really good, ripe ones taste EXACTLY like:

“Sweet apple pie with cinnamon, caramel and ice cream with a finish of butterscotch and Zacapa rum poached pears”

They do. I wont bother describing the fruit on the inside cause if you are willing to get past it’s outward appearances and taste it’s glorious fruit flavors “WHO THE F@#k cares what it looks like!?”

So the travel or expat blogger that reminds me the most of Nispero is Matt at Nomadic Matt. He is like crazy apple pie a la mode and he is way too complex. His site is jam packed with travel and living flavor.  Seriously, he is awesome and inspiring too.

2) Anona (cherimoya)

anona cherimoya tropical fruit of el salvador

The anona is like a small creamy slice of heaven

This fruit is delicious. No seriously, delicious. Yeah it looks alien and weird but it is freaking delicious. The best way to describe this fruits flavor is to talk about all the other foods it tastes like.There are two types common here in El Salvador the creamy white inside with more of a pine-cone skin and the raspberry creamy one with a slightly smoother skin.

The creamy white “Custard Apple”:

“Creme brule custard topped with vanilla ice cream, fresh banana, yellow apple and a spritz of lime zest.”

The pink fleshed one “Bulls Heart”

“Like Raspberry Cream sorbet, baked bananas, hints of sweet pineapple, a touch of cloudberries”
The problem most people have with the Anona/Cherimoya is that her in the tropics they are ripe and sweet and ready to eat when tey have a few BIG cracks cause the sweet fruit is exploding out. That makes them look nasty and makes them hard to transport. So you must go to roadsied stands or mercados to get them. it’s worth it.

So the travel or expat blogger that reminds me the most of Anona isa tie:

between Marinas awesome site Travel Experta where you can get every delicious Latin America travel experience you could ever want. Marina is doing things right and charting a new course. Visit her site and you won’t want to leave, expect to travel here.

and Bacon is Magic this site is crazy. Like insane in the membrane crazy. Have you been there? why are not already clicking on the link? Eat it.

3) Maracuya – Passionfruit

maracuya passionfruit  tropical fruit of el salvador

maracuya passionfruit is explosive

There are a LOT of different Maracuya here in Central America. The island type with the purple spotted skin is not as common. The most common ones are the yellow lemon sized ones that are freakishly tart/sweet. They are NOT an approachable fruit. They have a tough outward skin that takes a sharp knife to cut through, they need to be all wrinkled up to be ready to eat so they look un-sexy. And there is not really any real fruit to eat. They are like a pomegranate, except you eat the seeds with the juice/fruit.

The normal yellow Maracuya:

“Mouth-puckeringly tart with a Crazy floral, citrus, winey sweetness that explodes in the opposite direction, acidic, bright and zingy with intense florals and sweetness.”

These crazy Micro-Maracuya I call Limo’s: (about 1″ across)

“What a lime wishes it was in bright explosive tartness, a sparkling sweetness that barely restrains the amazing tartness and lime notes.”

Another tie!

So the travel or expat blogger that reminds me of Maracuya is Caz Makepeace at Mojito Mother. She is crazy zesty, zingy and bright. Her blog is all of that and more.

and second the travel or expat blogger that reminds me of Maracuya is Lisa at Chickybus. She is refreshingly, brightly sweet tart and keeps you rolling and rocking like the Chicken buses of lore.


4) Arrayan (myrtle Fruit)

arrayan tropical fruit of el salvador

Teh Arryan is meant for juice

NOT a fruit that I have enjoyed fresh yet. This is a very tropical fruit with zany levels of bright citrus notes. It is a small round greenish/yellow ball that is somewhat like a Guayaba but ALL bright tart citrus. But holy moly this fruit is amazing in ice cream, drinks, popsicles etc.

“Ba-bam! Citrus and green apple with lime, lemon and red grapefruit, mixed with a bit of grape skin”

So the travel or expat blogger that reminds me the most of Arrayan is The Hoggas F-ed up site Chicken Chunk.  Whatever you THINK it will taste like when you go there is NOT what you get when you open it up. She is certifiably insane. I love it.

5) Bananas

bananas in el salvador

Fresh bananas from the tree

Yeah I know! You say you totally know what bananas taste like already. NO YOU DON’T! Here in Central America bananas grow natively. So until you have picked a fresh banana from the tree in your backyard you do not know the real taste of bananas.

Fresh tropical bananas picked ripe:

“Tastes like a banana. The way you imagine bananas taste, like the best banana flavored ice cream x2 in sweetness.”

So the travel or expat blogger that reminds me the most of tropical bananas is Todd’s Wanderings travel site. yeah it LOOKS like a normal travel site and it even SAYS it’s a travel site. But it is so much more than that. Taste it, you’ll like it.


6) Pineapple – Pina

fresh pineapples in el salvador

you know you want one

The pineapples here are incredible. I always liked pineapples back in the states. But I did not go out of my way to buy them. Even at the grocery stores here they are better but not mind-blowing. Then I bought pineapples at a street stand.

I was hooked.

The flavor of a fresh tropical pineapple picked ripe:

“An explosion of sweet decadence bathed in everything pineappley, deep sryupy sweet, like butterscotch and honey”

So the travel or expat blogger that reminds me the most of Pineapple is Camels and Chocolate a travel/life site that chronicles the adventures of two crazy people who travel way too much. They are cool cats doing cool things but still pretty sweet. go there now.

 I hope that all our travel and expat friends we referenced here don’t get too pissed off that we basically called them a bunch of weird tropical fruits.


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About Andy

I am the coffee roasting, beer brewing husband of which Nanelle speaks. I am a bit of chaos and a lot of energy in a relaxed package. I am the father of Jacob, Aaron and Emme.

View all posts by Andy

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16 Responses to “Crazy-Ass Tropical Fruits And Nuts Of Latin America (A Blogterspective)”

  1. Jennifer Reyes Says:

    Made fresco maracuya today for the store. So delicious! And I get 1 gallon of fresco from 2 fruits (the green, hard kind) so it is very profitable. You will have to re do this post next summer though when the mangos are ripe. Nothing on earth better than a mango picked straight off the tree.

    • Andy Newbom Says:

      agreed, mangoes here are mind blowing. But right now they are just hard and sour. But WOW they are out of this world when fresh and ripe. we can eat 6 a day

  2. Lisa @chickybus Says:

    Muchas gracias for including me on this crazy/nutty and wonderful list…I am truly honored! I adore maracuyá (drank it all the time when I lived in Ecuador) and to be compared to it is….well, una maravilla! And sweet to be there with Caz, too.

    I've had all the fruits on this list (my absolute fave is cherimoya–yum!) except for nispero. I'm intrigued by it now and hope to try it next time I'm in Latin America… :)

  3. Lisa @chickybus Says:

    Muchas gracias for including me on this crazy/nutty and wonderful list…I am truly honored! I adore maracuyá (drank it all the time when I lived in Ecuador) and to be compared to it is….well, una maravilla! And sweet to be there with Caz, too.

  4. Marina Says:

    There are so many crazy fruits that I see daily, and of course can't think of a single name right now. But my favorite one was this red crazy one with stems sticking out all over the place in Costa Rica. I haven't seen it here in Guatemala.

    What fruit are you?

  5. rudolph Says:

    oh man, you did not even come close to the types of fruits i was expecting to read about.
    you totally did not include nances, mamones, jocotes de azucaron y corona; mangos de clase, mango indio, mango cuma. maranones rojos de azucaron y amarillos; maranon japones; the different types of guayabas, paternas, pepetos, caragos, zincuyas, almendras, cerezas, tunas, papayas, irayoles, granadillas, and last but not least cana de azucar.

  6. Russ Says:

    Matasanos were the best, little known fruit I ate in El Salvador. Try them if you haven't yet…

  7. Audrey Says:

    I learned of this post through ChickyBus' recent round up and really love the creativity here. I'm now really curious to try a nispero – think we missed that during our travels through Central America a few years ago.

  8. Juan Carlos Says:

    nanellenewbom, did you tried the ZAPOTE hahahahah is my favorite fruit and here in San Jose were I live with my Novio, I paid last week $ 5.00 Dls. for each of the Zapotes, just to remember thru my mouth my childhood, when I spent all the afternoon in the Cerro de San Jacinto, en Soyapango Eating Mangos, Guayabas, Arrayanes, Paternas, Pepetos, Granadillas ( pasion fruit ) and the incomparable NISPEROS. hhahahahahah. everytime I hate the food my stepmother do in house, I just walk to the cerro and have a Feast of flavors in my mouth.
    Look for a fruit that is called MATAZANOS, CINCUYA, ZUNZA, MAMEY,NANCES Y MAMONES. they are not available in the stores, but you can find it at the Mercado Central in San Salvador. haaaaa and do not forget to try the MARANONES,( Cashew fruit ) I tell my BF that I feel sorry for Americans that ever tried the Cashew Fruit FRESCO, in Fact Skotch my BF love it ,Everytime we go eat to our Local Salvadoran restaurant here in San Jose CA. Some people dont even know that cashew fruit exist and that is deliciose.

  9. Juan Carlos Says:

    I constantly keep my eyes open in the supermarket to see and buy new fruits and teast new flavors, I discovery that the Soy beens when they are fresh and are available in the market here in san jose, teast just like the SEMILLAS DE PATERNA, ( PATERNAS SEEDS ) The paternas are like a giant wide green beens, and you get the seeds that look like a giant beens and they are cover by a velvet white soft and sweet skin, you eat it and then all the seeds you boil them in water, put chile, salt and lime, and are so good. so the Soy Beens teast almost the same, I bougth them in the super and add the ingredients I said before and make me feel like if I am eating the Paterna seeds. that`s why march, April, and May are my favorite months in El Salvador.

  10. Christina Says:

    Oh man… all of these are fantastic. Moving to El Salvador and discovering a whole new world of fruits that I had never even heard of before was kind of mind-blowing. Not only that, but my husband has some property with over 12 varieties of fruit trees, so every weekend we have bags and bags of whatever's in season to munch on. (In fact, today I just ate the first maranon–tilde on the first 'n'–of the year! Have you tried those yet? After eating the fruit, you can roast the seeds over an open flame to get cashews!)


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