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Thursday, August 14, 2008

A New Fruit For You: Quenepas aka Mamoncillos aka Ackee aka Gineps aka Kenep aka Spanish Limes aka Gineppes


I always end up in this sort of conversation come August in Miami at a farmer's market:

Me: "Ooooh, quenepas!" ::::grab a cluster of the small, ovoid, green fruit::::

Someone standing nearby, if Haitian: "Ah, we call those kenep."

Someone else standing by, if from a different part of the Caribbean: "We call it ackee."

Someone not from the Caribbean or Latin America: "What is that?"

Me, "I'm not sure what 'Americans' call it." I go through the names.

"Is it good," the uninitiated asks, looking curiously at the weird little fruit.

"Are you kidding me? I'll eat this whole package in one sitting! Loved these since I was a kid. And I only got good ones in August. Gotta have them now."

~~

Mamoncillos is what my dad called them. I learned to call them quenepas (sometimes seen spelled "kenepas") in the South Bronx, as that's what the Puerto Rican fruit merchants called them. Either way: MmmmMMmmmmm. One of my all-time fave "not seen often" fruits.

Here in Miami, vendors will sell them on street corners in narrow plastic bags. If you're down here, you've probably noticed that every August.

If you've never tried them, here's why they're good for dieters: You can't eat them fast.

To me, they were akin to the experience of eating pomegranates and mangoes as a kid: a special, seasonal, stain-threatening treat.

My Mami would take off my shirt (when I was pre-puberty, natch), sit me on a pile of newspapers, hand me the pomegranate (or bag of quenepas or a mango), and let me suck away and make as much of a mess as my enthrallment with the fruits required.

I never ate the crunchy litle seeds of the pomegranates--still don't. I'd suck each seed individually--one at a time--getting the ruby fruit off the miniscule center hardness.

Same with quenepas. Very little wonderful sweet-tart flesh surrounds the pit, but so worth the effort of sucking it off, sliding the teeth over the goodness, getting as much as you could of the pale-peach pulp.

All three stain pretty badly, especially pomegranates! Quenepas leave a brown stain. Hence the precautions.

Wednesday, I had my quenepas when I got the late munchies. One little green beauty at a time. That amazingly satisfying brittleness that gives at the bite, so you can peel it off and get to work on the pulpy pit. It takes a while to get through a cluster this way. For bingers like me, any very slow-eating food, especially one that is so flavorful and satisfying to the mouth--you really gotta work it with tongue and lips and teeth--is a good thing.

Lets the binge urge pass a bit. Or altogether. :)

If you never tried these--no matter what you wanna call th em--be adventurous. If they have a lovely sweetness with the tartness, they're ripe. If they're just tart, they're not ripe: spit it out and search the cluster for a plump, riper one.

Try some this month. Before they're all gone till next year. :(

~~~

5 comments:

Chrissie said...

I will look for them here but I have never seen them. Are they like a melon or grape? They do look tasty.

Once Upon A Dieter said...

It's always hard to describe the taste of something to someone who hasn't tasted it. :) But I'd say it's like a touch of plum, with a touch of pineapple, with a itsy bit of lime, with maybe a smidgen of lychee.

It's the size of a big fat grape, but the skin is very brittle and it's actually fun to pierce with the front teeth. Makes a nifty crackle.

The P

Irene said...

Ackee, is what we call in Dominican Republic "Seso Vegetal". This is a very rare tropical tree/fruit which fruits taste just like Beef brains when cooked the same way you do this meat? or delicatessen...for those who like them and I adore.

Ackee or Seso vegetal trees bares a green fruit that turns yellow and finally red. When in it's green stage, it is poisonous, when ripen it will split open while still hanging from the tree to show a very shiny rounded black seed. It is then when is ready for harvest.

Ackee/seso vegetal (vegetable brains) fruits are harvested, seed removed then steamed just like you would a tomato to remove skin and seeds. Red skin is to be removed then chilled, sliced, and cooked in several ways. Dang I love Ackee!

Ackee is NOT to be confused with quenepas, spanish limes, genip, kenips, keneps, mamoncillos, limoncillos or tropical honeyberries; all the same fruit.

Ackee and Quenepas (with all their different names) are two different fruits.

My 2 tropical farmer cents ;-)

CAYLI!! said...

I USED TO LIVE IN THE VIRGIN ISALNDS. THESE FRUITS R GREAT WHENEVER THEY WERE IN SEASON MY MOM WOULD BUY A BUNCH FROM PPL WALKING AROUND SELLING(WE DIDNT LIKE CLIMBIN THE TREES) THEY WERE SO GOOD SO NOW WE GET THEM FROM THE FARMERS MARKET BUT THEY ARENT AS BIG:( I ALSO ATE+ A BUNC+H W++++++HE+N +I +WENT TO ST.LUCIA FOR THE SUMMER I GOT THE LOCAL BOYS TO CLIMD THE TREE FOR ME.

Tracy said...

Mother in law just sent us a box of them straight from Puerto Rico! yummy, I love these! They are great and good for you!