A delicious way to try out a new exotic fruit (and sometimes vegetables) is by getting adventurous with the different flavors of “ice cream.” Some are made with milk, others are pure fruit ices with a touch of sugar.
So what’s the difference between ‘Nieves’ and ‘Helados’?
Nieves: NYEH-vayz –from the word for snow, are made without dairy, similar
Helados: ell-AH-doz –from “congelado” con-hell-AH-do meaning ‘frozen’. Made with milk, not cream, so are lighter and less creamy-rich than, say, Ben & Jerry’s
Paletas: pa-LEH-tas are the equivalent frozen treat on a stick
Clear the way Cookies & Cream, we’re ready for something a little more exotic…
Zapote Negro – this unique fruit is easiest to find in the late fall into winter. Often referred to in English as the “chocolate pudding” fruit, it has a mild, chocolate flavor and a custardy consistency which lends itself to delicious creamy-without-the cream nieves.
Maracuyá – Passion fruit. Anticipate a complex, exotic flavor… lemon, rhubarb and strawberry. The fruit has small seeds and these are left in and give it a delightful crunch.
Elote – Corn blended with milk makes a delicious helado. Try it alongside a berry flavor like Zarzamoro (blackberry) or my personal favorite….
Garambullo –A dark purple-red “berry”, a cactus fruit rich in antioxidants, just like cranberries or super-fruits like the Acai (nieve)
Guanábana – A fruit that’s getting a lot of attention for its cancer-fighting nutrients. The flavor is light and tropical: vanilla, pineapple and banana-ish… like many exotic fruits it’s hard to describe. It has large seeds, which most often are left in – a bit of an inconvenience maybe, but you know you’re getting real fruit!
Tuna –The prickly pear fruit of the nopal cactus is called tuna in Mexico. It’s another fruit rich in antioxidants, with a flavor that might compare to watermelon + raspberry
Mamey – think sweet potato with a touch of malt
In Mexico, you’ll encounter street vendors selling myriad flavors….”Beso de Angel” – Angel’s Kiss, “Petales de Rosas”- Rose Petal, and many other creative concoctions, which are a change from Cookies and Cream (though you’ll find that too). but, if your interest is in tasting unusual natural fruit flavors try asking:
¿Hay un sabor de la fruta de temporada? ~ Is there a seasonal fruit flavor?
pronunciation : eye oon saBOR day la FROOta day tem-po-RAH-da?
Paletas are also fun and easy to make at home…
If you have kids and want to teach them to make a healthy summer snack, I recommend Fany Gerson’s “Paletas” –and not just for kids. A good many of the recipes are exotic and downright sophisticated.
A great idea for a fiesta!
Yaca (also spelled Yaka), or Jackfruit, is bizarre-looking, a pain in the arse to cut up and eat, and comes in a rather peculiar bumpy prehistoric-looking package that can weigh up to 15-40 Kilos!
While the one I handled was at the smaller end of that scale, it was still the weight of a two-year old child. And only about 40% of it is edible (unlike 2-year old children)– the remaining 60% accounts for its large seeds and a sticky latex network of membrane that holds all the bits together.
It’s native to Southeast Asia, not Mexico, but grows well in tropical lowlands,and has been naturalized in Mexico. The one I had was brought to me from Puerto Vallarta. It’s also known as Breadfruit, but for entertainment value, inspire and excite your guests by announcing its extra special ingredient, Sildenafil – the active ingredient in Viagra.
The texture is starchy and fibrous. When cutting it, after my own experience, I highly recommend you oil everything that comes in contact with its insides, including yourself, as the latex gums everything up. I was not so wise and wound up with my fingers stuck together most impossibly. Already you’re wondering if this is going to be worth the trouble…
Once it’s cut open you find, lined up along that central sticky core, pale golden yellow fleshy capsules each containing a large seed. To eat it, you must carefully pull each of these away from the core, once again to avoid the oozing latex. It is, as mentioned, an effort
And while it’s not a juicy treat– the texture is more reminiscent of something that might bounce– it does have a pleasant flavor and it’s interesting to eat, especially if you are into process. And,well, if you get your fella to eat enough of it (I have not been able to find any information about exactly how much that might have to be) you might discover those secondary benefits…
Please– do let us know.