As I wander through the markets, I’m always (well, almost) on the alert for unfamiliar shapes and colors. Most important to pay attention to are the ladies that set up their tables in the annex area, just outside the main central market here in San Miguel de Allende. They bring in the most seasonal and least common of the locally grown fruits and vegetables.
I almost missed these because they were set in tidy groups of five, a pale lime green similar in shape and size to the lima next to them. But there was just enough of a difference in the way the light caught the dimple at the end of the lima, which this fruit lacked. I did a double take.
‘Como se llamen, esta fruta?’ I asked the vendor. (Speakers of Spanish may note my grammatical errors– point is, never let fear of making mistakes stop you from expressing yourself)
‘Son zapote blanco.’
!!!!!!!! (was my reply). White Sapote! Of course, it’s May! I had been told back in February that these had a short season but to look for them in April or May and apparently, I had fallen asleep on the job… the vendor went on to tell me that one more week and they would be gone.
So I bought a few. She told me to eat them like apples, but I found didn’t like the feel of the skin– it seemed too thick. So, I cut one in half and scooped out some of the white flesh with a spoon. There are large pits– in the first one I cut, there were 3; larger than almonds in a fruit about the size of a small peach. The flavor, I’ll describe as a mild pear, but the consistency is less juicy, more smooth and creamy, somewhat like a soft avocado. The pits are bitter– even when I just scraped my spoon against one, I got some bitterness in that mouthful of fruit.
From what I read, the fruit of the White Sapote is rich in Vitamins C and A, and indicated for prevention of colds and flu. The bark and leaves of the tree area also used medicinally.
It’s about an hour since I ate about half a fruit and have found myself to feel very sleepy. So now, I am not surprised to read that eating the fruit has long been known to produce drowsiness, as noted byFrancisco Hernández de Toledo in the 16th century. In fact ,the Nahuatl name of the plant cochitzapotl (sleep sapote) indicates that the native people knew the plant induced drowsiness