Thursday, August 27, 2015

Licha -- The Fruit That Looks Like a Muppet

It's very interesting to see the different fruits come in and out of season at the market in Panajachel. When we arrived in April, the stalls were overflowing with avocados and mangos. After a month or so, they disappeared and were replaced with baskets of plums. This month it has been an abundance of peaches, the surprising arrival of apples, and now lichas! (lee-CHAS)
Truck full of lichas near the market in Panajachel

So wild looking!
Outside of Guatemala, lichas are properly called rambutans. They originated from southeast Asia. "Rambut" actually means "hairy" in the Malay language.
I bought a bag of them from that truck for only Q6, or about a dollar. The guy even let me taste one first!
Only Q6 for this bag of lichas or rambutans.
They hairs on the licha are actually soft, not spiky or prickly.
The skin comes off really easily, and the fruit inside is like a peeled grape but a bit bigger.
The seed in the middle. I was told you can eat them but often they are bitter. I didn't try it.
It's very easy to eat a licha and I can see why they are so popular as a snacking fruit. The skin splits open really easily, and then you just pop the white center part in your mouth. It's very juicy, slightly sweet, a very mild flavour. I liked it! 

Most people just chuck the red skin on the ground. You see them littering the streets these days. I didn't see anybody else spitting out the seeds but I didn't really want to eat it, so I dropped it in the gutter. 

The other nice thing about this fruit is that you don't have to worry about disinfecting it with bleach before you eat it, like you should do with most fruits without peelable skins. We disinfect apples, peaches, mangos, etc. We eat bananas and oranges right off the cart without disinfecting because we can peel them and get to the fruit that hasn't been contaminated by dirty hands, dirty carts, dirty flies, and just plain ol' dirt! 
Have to warn you too: I have seen dogs peeing on lower baskets of fruits and veggies at the market, so there's that to think about if you're ever in Guatemala and wanna eat a tomato without washing it.  :D

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