Friday, 29 May 2015

Cuba: Eating Mamey fruit

Mamey fruit sellers in Havana

One of the joys of being in Cuba was snacking on fresh and perfectly ripe 'exotic' fruit.  Exotic to my British palate, that is.  Fresh fruit for breakfast, fresh fruit for lunch: heavenly.  Not much is imported here and so fresh produce is seasonal and local.

New to me was the Mamey fruit.  I had never seen one before, and I really didn't know what to expect beneath the light brown sandpapery skin although I had understood from the seller that there was a large central stone.  

The flesh was a bright coral colour and kind of creamy but with a slightly rough texture, as if you'd made instant custard with powder but maybe not quite mixed it up properly: not unpleasant but unexpected.  I would probably say the same of the flavour.  It was, in fact, a bit like thick custard but not very sweet.  One description I read at Slow Food USA calls it a 'combination of sweet potato and pumpkin with undertones of almond, chocolate, honey and vanilla'. It probably does capture this rather unusual taste.

On a weekend in Vinales, in the Cuban countryside, we were served a smoothie made of mamey fruit with coconut milk for breakfast and this was the way I enjoyed it best, sitting outside on the terrace watching the tobacco farmers harvesting their leaves.

Mamey is nutrient packed with Vitamins C, B6 and E, and riboflavin, niacin, manganese and potassium.  It wouldn't be my 'you must eat this fruit' recommendation but it's good and, to add extra interest to a mixed fruit salad, or made into milk shakes and ice cream, probably great.

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