Sunday 5 August 2012

Fruit tasting

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I feel a series of posts on Nigerian food coming on!

One of my flatmates, Abbe, brought home an interesting fruit from the market. I’d seen these before but this was my first opportunity to eat it. The locals call them “sour sop”, although they are in fact very sweet and very juicy. The skins look horrid, avocado greenish in colour, with soft darkish spikes pitting the surface, but the inside the fruit is white with large black seeds, which I assume should not be eaten. My other flat mate< Candace,  decided she liked this fruit but for me it has the same ingredient of taste that many tropical fruits have, and which I don’t like. Guavas have it, noni have it, and sour sops have it. I can drink guava juice once processed so there must be some chemical reaction that takes place when the juice is processed that eliminates the taste. As with all new foods I always give them a try, and I can understand why folks love them, they are so juicy and in such a hot climate a sweet juicy fruit is a lovely thing to have.

Having tasted it and disliked it, the botanist in me then comes out and I have to find out what the proper botanical name is. My botanical skills are clearly still in  tact as I felt sure upon seeing the inside of the sour sop that it was like a custard apple. With a bit of investigation I find they are the same genus Annona. The sour sop is Annona Muricata, and the custard apple is Annona Reticulata, and the sugar pineapple, which I called a custard apple for want of its proper name all through my time in India, is Annona Squamosa . Small world!

Further investigation indicates there is definitely something about this botanical family, the Annonaceae,  as pawpaw which I also do not like belong here in the genus Asimina and perfumery uses another member Cananga odorata (ylang-ylang) which I also do not like.

I remember many years ago getting a freebie from a perfumery company client. It was a cluster map of the various woman’s perfumes, grouping them according to like perfume notes and constituents.  I need to find a similar one for tastes! A very similar fruit ,which was popular on some of the South Pacific islands we visited on the Soren Larsen, was noni. I didn't like that one either. I checked its botanical classification out thinking it might be within the same grouping, but it is not. However, I am shocked to learn that it is related to coffee, both members of the Rubiaceae! No wonder my body says yuck!

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