Friday, March 2, 2012

Alien Ingredient #18: Guava

I seem to be on a roll with the tropical fruit in the last few posts, though it's certainly not by design. It just happened that way. Last trip to the market, I spied some ripe baby yellow guavas, the first guavas I've ever seen. These are smaller than a lime, included in the photo for comparison, light yellow, a yellow the color of non-russeted Asian pears. The fruits are yielding in the sense that a peach or pear yields when it is ready to eat.

Now guava is not an unknown fruit to me. We regularly use pasta de guayaba (guava paste) and membrillo (quince paste) on our cheese plates. And I have somewhat fuzzy memories of last Easter Monday at a pool in St. Martin where our bartender Alain made us round after round of fabulous cocktails that he called Rendezvous, based on guava nectar.

I didn't know it was guava nectar at the time; I had to ask Alain because I could not place the haunting part passionfruit, part banana, part pear aroma coming from the cocktail. And this is the exact same aroma coming from these tiny little guavas, very tropical, very haunting, and very promising!

These particular guavas, in addition to being small and yellow, have white flesh. Many guavas have red or pink flesh. I cut one open to expose the round, very hard, blond seeds. The seeds in this particular guava are inedible and are encased in a pulp that reminds me of very, very ripe slippery, almost slimy, banana. This custardy pulp tastes mainly of banana and pear, with firm acidity and a slight starchiness that is unexpected. The shell of fruit surrounding the pulp is firmer with a texture and flavor of pear with banana overtones. Nowhere in the flesh could I find that haunting and elusive passionfruit that I smelled and that was so alluring.

Vote: This siren of a fruit lured me in with its aroma and then left me wanting. I won't try this particular kind of guava again, but I will try others as they cross my path.

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