Sunday, March 27, 2011

Interesting Eats: Passion Fruit

Have you ever tasted a fresh Passion Fruit?
While almost everyone I know has heard of "Passion Fruit", hardly anyone I know has ever tried it. In fact, I myself had never tried Passion Fruit until about 2 years ago when I visited the Dominican Republic with my friend Amy. Passion Fruit were plentiful there, and we greedily ate several Passion Fruits a day and officially declared it to be our favorite fruit. There is just something about that sweet, tart flavor that energized me and made me crave it anytime I needed a pick-me-up, whether first thing in the morning, or as a quick snack before heading out in the evening.

Passion Fruit is pretty hard to find back home in the states, but I always keep my eyes out for it and snatch it up when I can. While they aren't cheap (about $2 for a fruit the size of a billiard-ball), I find they are well worth the price for a special treat - after all, it's cheaper and healthier than a gourmet cupcake!

A purple-skinned Passion Fruit (and a quarter for size compairsion)

How to Eat a Passion Fruit
There are two types of Passion Fruit - one has purple skin, the other has golden - but while they look very different on the outside, the flavors are similar with strong sweet and sour notes and a taste likened to guava. To select a ripe Passion Fruit, choose a heavy, firm fruit with wrinkly skin.

The Dominican way to eat a Passion Fruit is to simply cut it in half, stir in a teaspoon of brown sugar, and eat it straight out of the fruit.

You'll find the texture to be very similar to Pomegranate - small edible seeds encased in the fruit's pulp. Eat it as is, seeds and all, for a high-fiber, vitamin-packed snack.

The insides may not exactly be beautiful, but the flavor is amazing when mixed with a little brown sugar.

You can also add the Passion Fruit seeds to green-salads or fruit-salads to liven them up.

Hungry for more Passion Fruit?

Cupcakes: Or if you'd really rather have a gourmet cupcake than a piece of fruit - compromise and have both! MORE Cupcakes in River North makes a Passion Fruit Meringue cupcake that is pretty darn incredible, but they rotate their flavors daily so be sure to call first if that's what you're after(312.951.0001).

Jam: I found this Passion Fruit Jam at a Mexican-owned grocery store in Ravenswood. It's great on toast, saltines, or served with a cheese plate.

Travel: To truly get a tropical fruit-fix, take a tropical vacation! May I recommend Brazil?

Passion Fruit Mousse dessert at a hole-in-the-wall "by the Kilo" buffet in Rio De Janeiro

Passion Fruit (Maracuja in Portugese) is so common in Brazil that I bought this can of Passion Fruit nectar made by Coca-Cola in a convenience store.

Fresh Fruit juice is so plentiful in Brazil, look at the long juice menu I found in a Bar/Pizza Place in Sao Paulo!

(translations: Maracuja = Passion Fruit; Goiaba = Guava; Acai = super-food berries; Caju = the fruit of the Cashew Tree)

A fruit-lover's paradise at the Central Market in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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