The response to Part 1 of this column has been way above my expectations. Thank you to all who took the time to send me email information and suggestions. So, here is the second part. Let’s see how many of these fruits you know or maybe remember from childhood.
First up is a fruit that I love even as an adult. It can be eaten when green, full and unripe all the way to when it is yellow and fully ripened. As a youngster, my friends and I would get unripe fruit and bounce them on the ground in the schoolyard or against any hard surface to break the fruit apart. Then we would divvy up the pieces and eat it with or without a sprinkling of salt. Or we would find a vendor who had peeled the green fruit, cut slits across the flesh and placed them in jars with water, salt and pepper. With the ripe fruit, the skin was peeled off before biting into the juicy sweet/tartness. I know this fruit as Pommecythere, pronounced pomme-see-tay. However it is also called June Plum or Golden Apple. The seed of this fruit is very interesting in that it is very fibrous.
Next up is Sapodilla, also called Mesple or Naseberry. The fruits are brown and round and, when ripe, the flesh is quite sweet. What is interesting about this tree is that the sap was used to create the earliest chewing gum. Native people would chew the sap or chicle. Even when eating the fruit some of the chicle is evident. Guess that’s where we got Chiclets from, huh?
One fruit that I haven’t seen a lot of in St. Thomas is Pommerac, which is also known as Otaheite Apple in Jamaica. The trees can be very tall, growing to more than 30 feet. The bright pinkish-red fruit are oval shaped with a single seed. The flesh of this fruit is white and can be juicy and sweet, not very sugary and with a subtle flavor.
Even as a child I loved spinach. Except what I knew as spinach is not the spinach that I became accustomed to when I moved to the states or to the V.I. Spinach as I knew it was also called Bhaji. Just recently I came to realize that it is the same as Green Amaranth. This plant is often seen growing wild as a weed along roadways here on St. Thomas. A couple of years ago I found some seeds for Red Amaranth and was surprised when I allowed the plant to ramble and it grew to more than 6 feet tall. The taste of amaranth is much stronger than spinach. You could almost taste the iron content in the leaves. Popeye would love this!
And finally, one of my favorite snacks was actually a root vegetable that I call Tipee Tambo and which is also known as Guinea Arrowroot or Sweet Corn Root. As the names imply this grows underground. The tips of the roots develop bulbs of small crunchy bites when cooked in salted water. They look a little like tiny fingerling potatoes but don’t taste anything like a potato and have a texture similar to a radish. After they are cooked, the skins are peeled off and the snacking begins.
Please share your thoughts with me at [email protected] I look forward to our exchange.