Strange Fruit

Just to clarify: this post has nothing to do with the Billie Holliday song. Although I do love Billie Holliday, and “Strange Fruit” may be one of the most hauntingly poignant songs dealing with racism in the U.S. ever written. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you should definitely look it up and be cultureducated! (but be prepared for some soul-cutting lyrics, that leave you in a state of perplexed extrospection about how such brutality could exist in a “civilized society”).

But I digress….

What I meant to talk about in this post was some of the unusual fruits I’ve seen in Santiago.

Chirimoya

I mistakingly bought this delicious fruit, in juice form, at a local caffe, and after much confusion trying to figure out what “Chirimoya” translates to in English, I discovered that this fruit is unique to South America.

The outside of the fruit looks like an artichoke. Inside it looks like an apple, and it tastes like the cross-hybridization of a banana, a pineapple and a papaya.

It’s commonly chilled and the inside is eaten with a spoon, like a sorbet, because the texture is so soft and smooth. I actually enjoyed one like this today and it really was like eating a dessert.

Chirimoya
Chirimoya

So if you’re planing a trip to Chile, look out for the fruit that Mark Twain called, “the most delicious fruit known to men.”

And make sure to feel it before you eat it. Like an avocado, it should be slightly malleable when ripe.

Tuna

Yes, in Chile, “Tuna” is a fruit. “Atun” is the fish, and (ready to be more confused?) “aceitunas” is the word for “olives”.

I stumbled upon this fruit the way I did the Chirimoya. This time, I confused the pieces of fruit for kiwi, but was pleasantly surprised to discover another new exotic fruit. These guys actually come from the blossom of a cactus and are very popular in Mexico (they even have a place on the Mexican Coat of Arms)

Mexican Coat of Arms
Mexican Coat of Arms

Berenice, my Spanish tutor, says that in the Mexican Markets, they sell them in all these beautiful colors.

Tuna (fruit) in Mexican Market
Tuna (fruit) in Mexican Market

She also says that the pulp is similar to that of aloe vera, and has even been known to treat inflammation of the intestines (as someone who suffers from UC, I am always interested in trying natural anti-inflammatory foods).

Maqui berry

Maqui Berries
Maqui Berries

I mentioned in an earlier post a famous Chilean drink, called Chicha. Well what I didn’t know at the time, was that this drink is made from the Chilean Maqui Berry, grown in the south of Chile. It has a deep purple color and has recently gained world-wide recognition for its intense antioxidant properties as well as it’s anti-inflammatory properties (I came to the right country!).

I was curious to learn more about the health benefits of this exotic berry, so I did a little online research and actually found an article about the Maqui Berry on FoxNews.com

In it, contributor, Chris Kilham, says,

“Maqui berries are very rich in anthocyanins, which are purple pigments with very high antioxidant activity. Specifically, maqui berries contain high levels of anthocyanins called delphinidins, which is also found in violas, delphiniums, and Concord grapes. But in maqui berry, these compounds are found in unusually high amounts. The delphinidins demonstrate potent anti-inflammatory activity, so they help to reduce the risk of a variety of degenerative diseases that involve inflammation. These pigments also inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells.”1

You can see read the full article at  http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/01/26/marvelous-maqui-berry/

Albino Strawberry (pineberries)

pineberries
Pineberries

Chile is too cool to have just regular, red strawberries. Instead they have these crazy-looking, white berries with red seeds. And they taste like pineapples!

What I want to know is, why don’t they sell these things in the U.S.?

Almost all of our off-season produce is imported from Chile anyways. You’d think by know someone would have said, “Hey! I bet North America might like some of these Chilean Strawberries. They would probably do really well around this time of year. Who wouldn’t want some evil, ghost strawberries at a Halloween party?”.

Anyone? Just me?

1 Kilham, Chris. (2011, January, 27). Maqui Berry: The Newest Superfruit. FoxNews. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/01/26/marvelous-maqui-berry/

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