Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mamoncillo

When I moved to St Croix, I was elated to find on the roadsides trees laden with a fruit from my Colombian childhood: Mamoncillo. Except that here in the Virgin Islands they call it Genip and in Puerto Rico, Quenepas. Wikipedia saved me from trying to figure out how to describe it: "A mamoncillo fruit has a tight and thin but rigid layer of skin, traditionally cracked by the teeth. Inside the skin is the tart, tangy, yellow pulp of the fruit, which is sucked by putting the whole fruit inside the mouth (the seed takes most of the volume of what is inside the skin)."
Wikipedia also taught me some facts I didn't know about Mamoncillo: it's part of the Sapindaceae family, which includes the Lychee, the Rambutan, and the Ackee. The mamoncillo is commonly planted along roadsides as an ornamental tree, and according to Caribbean folk wisdom, girls learn the art of kissing by eating the sweet flesh of this fruit
There is a row of Mamoncillo trees that we pass on our morning walk. We've watched it fill with fragrant flowers and abuzz with bees in the spring. Then the tiny fruit began to grow, and now there are beautiful clusters of mamoncillos. I plucked this one and brought it home imagining the sweet tartness of the pulp. But when I cracked open the first one, it was too tart and not juicy enough. They're not quite ready yet, but soon... very soon...

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