Tuesday, 20 May 2008
I've developed a real taste for passion fruit. A veritable passion for them, you might say, although the "passion" in their name refers not to love, but to the passion of Christ... but I digress.
I suppose I'd always known that they existed, but I never really paid them much attention until we went out to Ecuador last year. Until then they had always been that small, wrinkly purple fruit that I vaguely recognised but never actively sought out. In South America though, they're quite a big deal. For starters, there are loads and loads of different types - they grow there, you know.... Walk through any market place and you'll see bucket loads of them, all freshly picked. Forget about the small purple ones and check out the huge granadillas or the curuba, whose fruit looks a bit like a banana. These are so fresh that they are warm to the touch from sitting in the sunshine, and you can peel them open with your bare hands and greedily suck out all the flesh and those deliciously sour seeds. Let me tell you: the humble passiflora family has got it all going on.
It's not quite the same as sitting out on a hotel veranda in Banos, sipping on a freshly squeezed maracujá juice and looking out over a gently smoking volcano whilst waiting for my breakfast, but eating a small, wizened passion fruit in front of my computer at work does take me away from the mundanity of work for a few wonderful seconds of positive association.
I suppose I should be grateful that you can buy passion fruit here at all. I discovered the tomate de árbol in Ecuador too - it makes a mean juice - but you can't seem to get it around here for love nor money.
You might think that our supermarkets give us enormous choice, and in some ways I suppose they do. When compared to the natural bounty on display in every single marketplace around the equator though, they ain't got nothing. In Ecuador they have so many bananas that you can buy a bucket of them for $1 and feed them to your cows. They're so common, you can pick them from the side of the road.
We might be rich in many ways, but there's no banana you can buy here that's tastier than one that you picked for yourself from the side of the road.
I think I need a holiday.