The simplest pleasures! I made a fruit salad yesterday with the freshest and best ingredients – many of which we grew ourselves or that we obtained at the Organic Market just half a block up the street on Wednesdays and Saturdays: papaya, cantaloupe, banana, blueberries, pineapple, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, orange juice and freshly desiccated coconut from one of our palm trees. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the quality of the food we have access to, how amazing the flavors are and how happy we are to be home in Cabo again!
We are so fortunate to have access to the freshest and BEST produce here. Our breakfast yesterday consisted of blackberries and blueberries grown on the mainland (near where Ron’s sister, Mary, lives at Ajijic, beside Lake Chapala and half an hour from Guadalajara), fresh organic papaya from our friend, Alberto, who lives and has his organic farm just outside of San José del Cabo, fresh whole walnuts from Ron’s Mom that are grown near Santa Clara, CA, and fresh pomegranate, picked in our garden the day before. Add some yogurt and some homemade granola – an explosion of flavor and goodness to start the day!
I had never heard of a cherimoya tree or its fruit until seeing one at Mother Mary’s in Santa Clara, CA. Her tree is over twenty feet tall and it dropped several small fruit while we were visiting and had a large one still hanging on the limb.
I did a little research on the cherimoya and, although it is indigenous to South America, they are now found in other areas of the world, including California after its introduction in the late 1800’s.
Years ago, there was a team of botanists who came to visit Mother Mary when they learned that her cherimoya was bearing fruit and that she was not hand-pollinating the flowers. According to Wikipedia, “The flowers are hermaphroditic and have a mechanism to avoid self-pollination. The short-lived flowers open as female, then progress to a later, male stage in a matter of hours. This requires a separate pollinator that not only can collect the pollen from flowers in the male stage, but also deposit it in flowers in the female stage.
Studies of insects in the cherimoya’s native region as its natural pollinator have been inconclusive; some form of beetle is suspected. Quite often, the female flower is receptive in the early part of the first day, but pollen is not produced in the male stage until the late afternoon of the second day. Honey bees are not good pollinators, for example, because their bodies are too large to fit between the fleshy petals of the female flower. Female flowers have the petals only partially separated, and the petals separate widely when they become male flowers. So, the bees pick up pollen from the male flowers, but are unable to transfer this pollen to the female flowers. The small beetles which are suspected to pollinate cherimoya in its land of origin are much smaller than bees.
For fruit production outside the cherimoya’s native region, cultivators must either rely upon the wind to spread pollen in dense orchards or else use hand pollination. Pollinating by hand requires a paint brush. Briefly, to increase the fruit production, growers collect the pollen from the male plants with the brush, and then transfer it to the female flowers immediately or store it in the refrigerator overnight. Cherimoya pollen has a short life, but it can be extended with refrigeration.” Very interesting, indeed. How has Mother Mary’s tree managed to produce fruit year after year? Perhaps beetles have done the work, like they have found in Peru, or perhaps it is her hummingbirds.
The fruit, also known as custard apple, was described by Mark Twain as “the most delicious fruit known to man.” It is oval in shape and typically has smooth, bumpy skin. The fruit flesh is creamy and white in color, and is embedded with numerous, large dark brown seeds. When cherimoya is ripe, the skin remains green and will be slightly soft when squeezed. The flavor has been described as a blend of banana, papaya, peach, pineapple, and strawberry.
If chilled, the fruit, also called ice cream fruit, can be eaten with a spoon and is commonly used in yogurt, gelato and ice cream. Who knew that such a delicious and exotic fruit would be found in Mother Mary’s backyard!
- Hot sauces are excellent in sauces and stir-fry’s, make quick and handy marinades before grilling food, and are always welcome condiments on the table.
- Research has proven that adding hot sauces to your foods can help your body burn calories faster (up to 45 calories more per meal than if you eat bland dishes).
- When people eat hotter sauces, they experience pain in their mouths and throats. The nervous system reacts to the pain by releasing morphine-like endorphins. Endorphins create a sense of euphoria similar to the “runner’s high” that some people get from exercise. People who regularly eat hot sauces and chiles will find that they develop a tolerance to the heat and will have to eat increasingly hotter sauces to get the high.
- Hot sauces are North American’s favorite way to turn up the heat and add some extra flavor and spice to their food. Most hot sauces are a blend of chiles, vinegar and salt, but many are variations that may also contain ingredients such as carrots, onion and papaya.
- By adding lots of flavor to food with hot sauces, chiles and spices, you can reduce the amount of fat, oil and salt in your diet.
- The stinking “rose”, otherwise known as garlic and a common ingredient in hot sauces, is an excellent antioxidant that can help reduce free radicals that exist in the human body. Garlic reduces cholesterol, clears arteries and helps maintain healthy blood circulation.The true hot sauce collector and aficionado looks for several qualities when evaluating a new sauce: appearance, originality, aroma, heat and flavor. Why not invite friends over for a hot sauce tasting party with evaluation forms for the sauces you’ll be trying? Try each sauce on unsalted crackers or tortilla chips and have some fun.
- Half the fun of collecting hot sauces is laughing at the names that their creators give them. The names are as original as the sauces themselves and range from reference to fire and explosion, animals, religious, crime and punishment, controversial, erotic, naughty, mental health, and western themes. The names and labels make us laugh and represent much of the fun that enjoying hot sauces bring us.