Monday, January 2, 2012

Lychee, Zapote, Guisquil, and Pitaya: Fruit and Vegetables Introduced to me in Guatemala

There are four types of fruit or vegetable that I was introduced to in Guatemala: Lychee, Zapote, Guisquil, and Pitaya. Because I learned of them in Guatemala, I know them by their Guatemalan names; with the exception of lychee... I'm not sure what it's called in Spanish since a fellow expat introduced it to me. So let's start with that one:

Lychee: a colorful, reddish fruit on the outside with a grape-like inside surrounding a seed, is quite sweet! You just peel off the red part, eat the white and spit out the seed. I think the flavor is similar to that of a grape as well.

Image: piyato / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Zapote: From the outside, I think this looks like a sweet potato or tuber but it is actually considered a fruit. It has thick brown skin on the outside with an orange flesh surrounding a large dark brown seed. I wasn't impressed with the mild, slightly sweet flavor, but I figure it's something one must develop a taste for. (Image from A.M. Costa Rica)

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Guisquil: Known in English as "chayote," this light green squash-like vegetable has a white meat and an interesting juice. When we cut it, if it got on our hands it made them feel like the skin was drawn up very tight, like something you'd expect a fancy spa to put on your face to make you look younger. ;) (If you try that, let me know if it works. That'd be a great natural alternative to Botox for interested people!) In Guatemala we would peel, cut into large round slices and boil the guisquil. Then, we would coat it in the same egg mixture used to make envueltos de ejote, (green bean wraps) and fry in olive oil. It was very tasty this way or boiled like any vegetable in a soup or stew.

Image: anankkml / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Pitaya: Known as "dragon fruit" in English, what points this exotic fruit gains in appearance, it loses in flavor. It's bright magenta skin with green-spiked leaves are peeled away to expose a white or magenta flesh filled with little black seeds. The flavor is not sweet, and reminds me of a raw potato. It is sometimes made into chips or cut up raw and added to other fruit mixtures or covered with sugar to give it some flavor. There should be a proverb about the pitaya... something like, "Though it looks as exciting as a pitaya, it is as flavorless." (Maybe you can come up with a better one. ;))

Image: Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Have you tried any of these fruits or vegetables? Did you like them? Where were you introduced to them?

4 comments:

  1. I love all the mentioned fruit except güisquil, but my husband likes it a lot. Lychee here are called, I believe, "lychas" and zapote is related to avocado and can be found in different varieties and to different degrees of sweetness. I am a big fruit eater, so have tried them all I think. Try the red bananas, those are really good. They taste just like those Gerber's bananas (baby food). And paternas, big pods full of a cotton-like balls of tremendous sweetness, tasting similar to lychee, but less juicy.

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  2. My hubby LOVEs lychees, but I'm not a big fan of them. I can't stomache the taste! It's such an odd flavor.

    I think I've maybe tried "dragonfruit" or something similar to it. When I tried it I remember thinking that it was a mix between a potato and a kiwi. I loved the little seeds, but was disappointed in the lack of flavor.

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  3. My Guatemalan husband says they're called "nances, or one nance.

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  4. lychee's are not Nance. nances are round smooth and orange on the outside.

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