Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Quenepas

     The local Shop Rite in New Jersey paid dividends once again.  While cruising through their rare and strange fruit section last week I came upon a new one--quenepas.  As with many other foods I've talked about in this blog, quenepas go by more names than a secret agent in a Cold War thriller.  Some of the fruit's aliases are Spanish lime, genip, chenet, limoncillo, skinip, and mamon.  Even, in a couple of places, ackee, which is very confusing, as to most people this refers to an entirely different kind of fruit (see January 16, 2014 post for more on the "real" ackee).  Nowadays quenepas are grown throughout South and Central America, Mexico, and various Caribbean islands.  Originally they hailed from parts of Northern South America.
     Quenepas are considered to be very healthy.  They have decent amounts of fiber, calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamins A and C.  Some alternative medicine folks credit them with being able to lower blood pressure and aid with asthma.  One site even mentioned that their lysine content would help with "proper growth and for preventing herpes."  (Which made me recall the safety strategy for the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park."  Were these creatures especially susceptible to this disease?)
     Most people eat this fruit raw.  When ripe, of course.  (This is rather important, too, as websites noted that unripe quenepas are toxic.)  Consumers bite into one, breaking open the rind.  Then the inner pulp-covered seed is popped into the mouth, and the pulp essentially sucked off (one of the fruit's many names is a local word meaning, "to suck").  In Mexico chili powder and salt are occasionally added, to give the fruit some bite.  The juice is infamous for its brownish stain-causing attributes.  In fact, traditionally it was even used as a dye.  The seeds are edible, too, after drying and roasting, typically.
     The quenepas I bought were still on the vine.  They were small, dark greenish, somewhat shiny fruits, about the size of a cherry tomato (about 1 inch in diameter, or 2.5 cm.).  The pulp was a yellowish-orange in color, and soft and almost gooey in texture.  I did as was suggested and just popped the seed and pulp in my mouth after I bit it open.  Then I basically melted the pulp off the seed, which I then spit out.  (Given my severe aversion to cooking or food preparation I didn't even try to cook and eat the seeds--I threw them out.)  The taste was alright.  Fairly tart, with a mealy, crab apple-like texture.  But here's the thing--the seed is huge.  Like 80-90% of the space under the rind.  One would have to eat like 50 quenepas  to get a decent amount of the pulp.  All in all, I didn't find it to be worth the effort.  They were also quite pricey, being $2.99 a pound (my 7 individual fruits set me back about 50 cents).  Therefore, I don't think I get these again.  Maybe if I could buy the separated pulp or juice, I might consider it.  Although that would presumably be even more prohibitively expensive.

     On an unrelated pro football note, the Carson Wentz era starts in a few days for my Philadelphia Eagles.  Hopefully he's more like Donovan McNabb, or even Randall Cunningham, and less like Bobby Hoying or Brad Goebel.

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