On February 1st, I decided to give up baked goods for 2 months. I know, I know. It sounds counter productive for my blog and more importantly, it seems like a self-destructive life decision. Why am I doing this to myself? I’m calling it the “I ate too much pie and cookies during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season cleanse.” Plus, grad school is busy and stressful and what have I been doing instead of doing more yoga and zumba? Yup, eating too many cookies.
When Valentine’s day came around, Tim was faced with the following dilemma: What do I get Camila when she has given up baked goods and she is allergic to chocolate? Ooops. Turns out that Tim was clever and sweet enough to listen to me raving about the chirimoyas I had seen at Central Market and got me some 🙂 It was a very special gift to me because chirimoyas are my favorite fruit in the world, but they are not easy to find. I was thrilled with my chirimoyas and very touched by the gesture since the last time I ate chirimoyas was when I visited Chile 3 years ago.
Chirimoyas are originally from Central and South America. They used to be cultivated by the Incas! Fun fact: the name originates from the quechua “chiri” (cold) and “muya” (orchard). I recently learned that chirimoyas are also produced in Southern California, USA. The ones that Tim got were from Santa Barbara. In English, chirimoyas are technically called “custard apple” and I am not really sure why Central Market is calling them “cherimoyas” (The Incas would be so disappointed haha).
I still don’t really understand why the fruit is referred to as custard apple. Chirimoyas have nothing to do with apples, except for the fact that they both grow on trees. A very temperamental, delicate, and skinny tree I might add. Chirimoyas can only grow and survive in mild climates (not too cold, not too hot, and not too rainy) and in relatively dry lands. Which is why northern and central Chilean lands are perfect for growing Chirimoyas. The fruit also has a very short season (typically December and January, the remaining of the year consists of patiently waiting) and it must be harvested at the right time. Otherwise, the fruit might be already too ripe by the time it gets to the store. Not to mention that transporting the chirimoyas across the country is not a trivial feat.
So, what do chirimoyas actually taste like? When perfectly ripe, chirimoyas are smooth, sweet and juicy. According to Tim, their taste reminds him of bananas (yes, he got to try some hehehe). I think he is right, but now that I think about it, chirimoyas resemble a smart blend between ripe pears and bananas. The best way to eat a chirimoya in my humble opinion is to chill it in the fridge for a few hours and mix it with orange juice. This delicious and refreshing creation is called “Chirimoya Alegre” (Joyful Chirimoya) in Chile.
Then, how do you eat a chirimoya? With lots of patience and dedication! What you want to eat is the white part. First, you have to peel the skin, but you have to be thorough. Otherwise, the fruit’s residual skin will make it taste more bitter and add roughness to its texture. The next step is to patiently take out all of the seed. Trust me, you don’t want to bite into one of the black seeds, they are not pleasant. The seeds are very sneaky, for they like to stick to the chirimoya’s pulp.
The whole process is so worth it! I promise! The chirimoyas that Tim picked at Central Market were perfect (very impressive on his part since he had never touched a chirimoya before) and even though they were not Chilean, they tasted exactly like the ones I grew up eating. Chirimoyas hold a very special place in my heart and most people never hear about them, so I am really happy to feature them on my blog. Next post will feature my own personal ceviche recipe, so stay tuned!