One of the perks of living in tropical Cúcuta is the accessibility of delicious, exotic fruits! Fruits we’d never heard of nor seen in Norway. On every street corner, you find fruit carts selling pineapple, mango, papaya and other more or less familiar fruits. As great as this is, nothing is like picking your own mango straight from the tree in your office, or when someone comes into the office offering us fruit from one of the many fruit trees here in the city. Not only is there fruit to be found everywhere, it is also the juiciest, most delicious fruit, matured naturally without conservatives in the sun, as opposed to the fruit shipped in containers to Norway.
Here’s a little guide to some of our favorites:
The city streets of Cúcuta are bountiful with this little fruit, called mamón. These were picked right outside our office, in the center of Cúcuta, on a quite heavily trafficked street. Luckily, thanks to it's thick, inedible shell you can pick them right from the sidewalk and eat. There's not a whole lot of flesh on the berry, as it has a big nut-like core. The taste is mild, sweet and fresh, with a consistency similar to lychee or grape.
This vibrant, orange deliciousness is a zapote. A coconut-sized berry, with a truly unique taste. It's very mild, similar to cantaloupe, but sweeter. The texture of the flesh is creamy, soft and a little bit stringy, similar to mango. The zapote also has a big, hard, inedible core, like the mango, and is equally difficult to eat without making a mess.
Now this is a favorite! You're looking at a granadilla, the sweeter cousin of passion fruit (which, in Colombia comes in the same shape). The fruit is virtually weightless, with it's porous outer shell and small, edible seeds inside. The seeds are covered in gooey flesh, where all the flavor is. The taste is difficult to explain; it has some of the sourness of passion fruit, but the dominant flavor is mild, sweet and with a hint of flowers. There's no good way of eating this fruit. The shell is really difficult to cut with a knife, but easily cracks open by the force of your hands, so just crack it open and suck out the flesh and the seeds. For those more refined than us, one could also use a spoon.
Mango is of course familiar to all of us. In Colombia though, you find different types of mangos, and they're also eaten differently. The green ones in the picture are harder and more sour. These are typically eaten with salt and lime, and sometimes sweetened with honey. Yellow/red mangos are softer and sweeter than the green ones, and eaten as is. Mango is in fact the most eaten fruit in the world, which might be surprising to Norwegians, as it's still somewhat exotic in Norway, but after being in Colombia and seeing how abundant it is, and how much of it people eat, it makes perfect sense.