“If I were asked which would be the best fruit, I would choose without hesitation, cherimoya. Its taste, indeed, surpasses that of every other fruit.”
There were two reasons I had to write about cherimoyas.
I had been reading this book Life In Mexico, a diary written by a Scottish woman way back in 1831 (that’s a quote from her that I started out with) and I was fascinated by how often cherimoyas came up in her diet.
Then, my friend Richard Smerdon forwarded a BBC piece on The 100 Most Nutricious Foods. There at number two were cherimoyas. Cherimoyas, those big ugly green things I see in the market. The second most nutricious food in the world. I had to have some. And soon.
Richard and I tramped up to San Miguel de Allende’s Tuesday Market. Richard is, like Don Day, a former Brit, so it was easy to lure him based on the promise of black pudding tacos for breakfast.
I had seen cherimoyas lots of times (but I didn’t know what they were called). And they didn’t exactly jump up and say “buy me and eat me”. They were about the size of an overweight grapefruit, shaped like a heart that’s suffered a jilt or three, and colored like a badly bruised avocado. Imagine an artichoke and a strawberry having an affair and producing a chubby child.
You have to be careful though. Cherimoyas are very similar to another classic Mexican fruit, guanábanas. The difference is guanábanas have little spikes; cherimoyas are smoother.
It took a while to find them at the market this time (the cherimoyas are the ones on the left in the photo, the guanábanas are on the right). I discovered the reason was timing. It was January and, as one of the vendors told me, we have lots of them “en septiembre, octubre y noviembre” (which is why I waited a few months to publish this).
I was a little shocked at the price when I heard 65 pesos. And that was for just one single cherimoya. Particularly because I was buying based on nutritional values. I could spend 650 pesos based on how good the taste of something is. But 65 pesos based on how good it is for me? Hmmmmmm!
Just as I do when I’m buying avocados, I asked the vendor for one that was “para hoy” or good for today, went home and didn’t quite know what to do with this green and purply-black hunk of flesh. I googled “cherimoya recipes”. There was next to nothing but smoothies and smoothies are for guys that don’t eat black pudding for breakfast.
It seemed like the best way to eat them was straight up, keeping in mind that, according to foodfacts.mercola.com, “neither the skin nor the seeds, which are toxic when crushed, are edible.”
After Don Day’s Wife served a superb ribeye stroganoff with porcinis, chanterelles and morels plus a side of tagliatelle, I headed for the kitchen and looked at it. My first cherimoya. The second most nutricious food in the world (after almonds, by the way).
I slid the Henkel through it, checked out its juicy, custardy innards, plated it and placed it in front of Don Day’s Wife.
She didn’t exactly dig in. Just looked at it for more than a minute or two. Then finally slid in her spoon and lifted it to her mouth.
“Wow! It’s like a melon covered with cream. This is one great fruit. It really is. It feels like it’s so rich and fattening. Like halfway between a rhubarb fool and a mango mousse.”
Don Day’s Wife liked it. I so much wanted Don Day’s Wife to like it. And what was good for the goose was good for the gander.
I thought it tasted like banana. Then I thought it tasted like pineapple. It was sweet and it was sour. We talked about putting it on a biscuit and pouring on a little chocolate sauce. I emailed Richard and reported that cherimoyas were “awesome” and to expect them at the next dinner party.
Now that would present one problem and it’s probably why cherimoyas aren’t the most popular fruit in the bowl. Those seeds are big and fat and spitting out seeds isn’t exactly emily postable unless you’re dining in a dugout.
But still that flavor was worth it. Even Mark Twain called the cherimoya “the most delicious fruit known to men”. And that was before the internet and before he could search out “What Is Cherimoya Good For” at foodfacts.mercola.com:
With zero saturated fat, cherimoyas are cholesterol-free, high in fiber, iron, and niacin, and contain powerful cytotoxins that are said to combat cancer, malaria, and human parasites. They’re high in vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that helps the body resist infection, as well as a good source of B vitamins, notably vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), which provides 20 percent of the daily recommended value.
Cherimoya provides high potassium levels, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Furthermore, it contains more minerals weight per weight than a lot of more common fruits, such as apples, because of its copper, magnesium, iron and manganese content.
Well, good for me for eating cherimoyas.