Wednesday, March 23, 2016

More Weird Fruits & Veggies of Guatemala

Another weird food report from sunny Panajachel!

The market is full of extra vendors this week due to Semana Santa. The little road is now closed every day, like they do on Sundays. There is a guy selling straw hats that's not usually there, several ladies with cookies and meringues, and two big long tables with loads and loads of dried fish! Super smelly.
Makeshift tables of dried salted fish for Lent.
The dried fish, I learned, is to make a special meal for when you give up red meat for Lent. They call the style of dish Vizcaína, which I think refers to the Biscay region in Spain, or Basque maybe? You can see a quick cooking video here.

Mangos are starting to come back into season. They're laying blankets on the cobblestones to pile them up. Yummy! Saw a few jocotes too, which have been out of season for a while now.

I also saw this monster of a vegetable/fruit, pictured below (not my photo). The vendor told me it was a melocotón. I was a bit befuddled cuz I thought that meant peach but then I remembered that durazno is peach in Latin America while melocotón is peach in Spain. It's some sort of squash or something, but sweet tasting. I didn't buy one but it certainly was impressive to look at. Very big and very burgundy, much more reddish than the one pictured below. I see them using these in the Semana Santa decorations. Hopefully I can get a picture next time!
Not my photo. It's from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
Now to our most recent bizarre fruit taste test -- the pataxte. The what?? Pah-TASH-tay.
I saw a few of these in a pile in the market, asked what they were, completely couldn't understand the word, went on Facebook, got clarification that it's a pataxte, then Googled it before I bought one. All that for a fruit! Whew!
A pataxte.
It is a close relative of the cocoa bean. Yes, chocolate! Unfortunately, we discovered it doesn't taste like that, although one link below talks about some people trying to use it as a cocoa substitute.
The outer casing is quite hard, like a shell. Bert had to hack it with a big kitchen knife to get it open.
Inside the pataxte.
Inside was this soft flesh with big white beans/seeds. We used a spoon to scoop some out. The orangey flesh was quite sweet, tasting like a combination of mango-banana-pear. But the seeds, whoa, they were bitter!!
I went and Googled some more and discovered that we shouldn't be eating the seeds. Normally, you take them out, dry them, and eat them later. Also, after conversing with some helpful folks on Facebook, we figured our pataxte was underripe and that's why the seeds weren't separating easily from the flesh. Sorry, new fruit. Into the compost with you! Good thing it only cost Q5.

For info on the pataxte, check out these links:

For more info on some of the neat fruits here in Guatemala, this is a good site:

It's gotten really hot here recently, and the town is filling with visitors for Semana Santa. There are processions every day and lots of folks busily building displays. Plenty of booze vendors all over town too, and happy dancey music playing. It's exciting! Stay tuned for my pictures of this year's Semana Santa. Adios!

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