Fresh Fruit Paradise

Variety, quality, you name it… Costa Rica has got it. It’s available everywhere, from the supermercados to sidewalk vendors to farmer’s markets. If you could live on fruit, you could live very well here, and on the cheap.

A stroll through a farmer’s market like the Mercado Borbon in San Jose (Calle 8, Avenida 3) will present you with a mountain of options. You will see the familiar (bananas, grapes, apples, oranges, limes (called ‘limon,’ pineapples, melons, watermelons, berries, coconuts) along with a horde of tropical favorites and some things only locals know about.

One of my favorites is the mango, native to India but abundant here. I prefer them ripe, but you can find green mango slices, salted and seasoned with lime, sold as a snack. Papayas are also thrive in Costa Rica, and are considered good for the digestion in addition to being tasty. Guavas, and passion fruit are two more tropical fruit that are familiar to fruit lovers around the world.

One I had never seen before I came to Costa Rica was the mamon chino. They are red and have a spiky outer skin. The edible part inside has a grapelike taste.

The maranon is unusual in that the seed, a cashew, grows outside the fruit. Do not eat the cashews, however, as they are poisonous unless they are roasted. Maranon is often sold dried.
Pejibaye is another fruit I had never seen before.
There are numerous ways to prepare them but raw I found them rather sour. You might love them. Tamarindo fruit is usually used as the basis for juice and batidos (fruit shakes). The juice is often available as a ‘refresco natural’ in the sodas and restaurants. Give it a try.

I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t mention two more ‘fruits’ that are generally not thought of as such. The platano, or plantain, resembles nothing more than a big, slightly misshapen banana. The taste is similar but much less ‘fruity.’ Generally, they are sold green or ripe, and the locals usually fry them. You will often get some fried plantains if you order a ‘casado’ (see blog on ‘sodas’).

Saving the best, arguably, for last, we have the aguacate (avocado). That which is expensive in North America is cheap and abundant here. Buy a couple of ripe ones to eat right away and some less ripe ones for tomorrow or the next day. Good stuff!

I am undoubtedly leaving some fruit out. Luckily, the fruit never complain. If you have a favorite I have missed, please attach a comment. Bon apetit!

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