Strange Fruit: Guinep
The best thing about living in a multicultural area is the vast array of scary-ass fruit and vegetables that you’ve never heard of, and couldn’t have anticipated in your most imaginative
nightmares dreams, but which find their way to the local grocery store nonetheless. I finally built up the courage to buy a bright green and warty looking bitter melon (bitter disappointment, more like), and a few months ago there was “that incident” with durian. Don’t even give me sympathy, guys. I knew better, and I did it anyway.
(Picture from Faretrade, although I dare say she got it wrong. The actual caption was, “Durian: King of Thai farts”)
My most recent and possibly terrifying fascination is to try each and every one of these foreign fruits and vegetables that I slowly push my cart past every week. Foot long Chinese “okra”? Absolutely! Odd little tubers that look like tamarind pods on steroids? Can’t wait! However, for the sake of my loving and affectionate husband, I decided to start us out small with twee little fruits on a branch that looked like mini limes but certainly had nothing else in common. I present to you, the guinep.
Formally known as melicoccus bijugatus, it could be that I chose these specifically for the name. I mean, c’mon. MELICOCCUS BIJUGATUS. Tell me that you won’t be snickering as you repeat that phrase all day. Common to the tropics, apparently these fruit come from a branch of the “soapberry” tree, which sounds, if possible, even less appetizing than melicoccus. There are many other names for guinep, including:
- Spanish lime
- Genip(e), Gunip, Guenip, Canep, Chenep, Kenip
- Akee (which is very inaccurate if you’re used to West Indian ackee and saltfish)
- Limoncillo; and my favorite….
Thank you, Wikipedia. I totally owe you one.
According to the sign up at No Frills, these guinep were from Trinidad, although the fruit is also native to the South Pacific, Caribbean, Mexico and parts of Africa. Guinep can be peeled and eaten as is, but it is also frequently pressed into a tart-sweet juice. The skin is thin and easily peeled off, revealing a pale golden and somewhat sticky flesh, like a ripe peach that has been bitten and then left to wither in the sun for three hours. And yes, that may be an indication of what was to come upon the first tasting.
So what we really want to know is how do they taste? Well, I suppose, to at least some of us, they taste like this:
I believe that Mike described the guinep as, “chewing a rock…with hair.”
Inside that deceptively juicy looking flesh is a large, firm pit, similar to the inside of a lychee fruit. But, you know, bigger. And more daunting. It could be that the flesh was thin and not particularly disposed to dissolving in one’s mouth. I sucked and sucked like Linda Lovelace, but to no avail. After 10 minutes, when I was approaching desperation and total acknowledgment of fruit failure, I realized that the fruit had only managed to deteriorate to a thick slimy scum of fibrous matted fur around an inordinately large seed.
…and I spat it out.
I’m sorry, good people of Trinidad. We don’t dig your slightly-less-than-delicious fruit.
Will we try again? ABSOLUTELY! After all, hope spring eternal, and my penchant for buying suspicious produce is unlikely to disappear any time in the near future.
So, is next stop the root vegetable that looks like Satan’s second in command, or the “apple” that is, you know, totally just kidding? You tell us, because if it can be found, we will eat it….at least once.