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Mercado Monday: Mamón Chino (Rambutan)

Mercado Monday: Mamón Chino (Rabutan)

Mamón Chino or Rambutan (“rum-boo-tan”)

Buying Guide:
There is no real trick to finding ripe mamón chino. If they are red they are ready to go.

How to Eat It:
Mamón chino is a great fruit to eat on the run. Just pinch or bite a small hole in the skin and peel it away to expose the flesh inside. Then just pop the whole thing into your mouth and chew and suck the flesh off the seed inside.

Flavor:
Mamón chino (also referred to as rambutan) is a cousin to the much more well-known lychee fruit. The two taste very similar. They are sweet and slightly tart, with the consistency of a firm grape. 

Harvesting Season:
Mamón chino can be harvested twice per year, but is most prevalent July through September.

Nutrition:
Mamón chino is low in calories and high in Vitamin C, iron and anti-oxidants.

Interesting Facts:
Mamón chino roughly translated means “Chinese sucker”.  Originating from Indonesia and Malaysia it can be found growing naturally all over Southeast Asia. Most Nicaraguans refer to people of any Asian descent as Chinese.  For example, our good friend Kenny is Hawaiian. Locals refer to him as “chinito” (cute little China man). Thinking in true Nica logic – a fruit of Asian background that you suck on – should obviously be called a  Chinese sucker.

Mercado Monday: Passion Fruit (Calala or Maracuya)

Buying Guide:
Select calala that feels heavy for its size.  If the skin on the fruit appears glossy yellow or green it is not ready to be eaten. Wait until the skin gets blotchy and starts to shrivel and wrinkle, like an old man’s skin. Even then the inside of the calala may still be yellow and quite sour.  When calala looks almost spoiled on the outside the fruit on the inside will be vibrant orange in color and little bit sweet.

Flavor:  The juice and pulp of calala is slightly sweet and very tart with a unique burst of citrus flavor. The seeds are surrounded by the pulp of the fruit and are meant to be eaten. They add a nice crunch and provide an incredible amount of fibre.

How to Eat It:
Calala is the one fruit where you eat the seeds and discard the skin.  It is often used in juices and smoothies. When added to something very sweet like a banana and pineapple smoothie the calala’s acidity cuts through the sweetness an adds an incredible punch of citrus flavor. My personal favorite way to eat calala is to scoop the seeds and pulp into a bowl, add some natural yogurt, a banana and a handful of roasted cacao beans. The creamy, sweet, sour, bitter, crunchy combination of flavors and texture is amazing.

Harvesting Season:
Passion fruit can be found year round, but high season for this fruit is October through February.

Nutrition:
Like many fruits calala is high in Vitamin A, C and antioxidants. It is also incredibly high in fibre. Passion fruit offers a good dose of B vitamins, potassium and loads of minerals like iron, copper, magnesium and phosphorus.

Interesting Facts:
The ugly appearance of the skin combined with the weird seedy goopy interior makes the calala one of the ugliest – but most delicious fruits – I eat. Having a calala is part of my daily ritual.

Mercado Monday: Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)

Mercado Monday: Pitaya

Pitaya (Dragon Fruit)

Although this colorful fruit is readily available in most grocery stores in Canada, before moving to Nicaragua we didn’t know what it was, nor had we tasted it. But now that we know how to eat it, it’s become a favorite!

To learn all you need to know about dragon fruit – otherwise known in Nicaragua as – pitaya continue reading below

Buying Guide: Look for bright, even-colored skin.  Hold the dragon fruit in your palm and try pressing the skin with your  fingers – it should give a little (like a ripe kiwi), but shouldn’t be too soft or mushy.

How to Eat It: Cut the dragon fruit in half. You can cut it into quarters like an apple and peel the skin off. Alternately you can spoon it out like you would a melon. It also tastes great in juices and smoothies.

Flavor:  Dragon fruit has mild sweet flavor with tiny crunchy seeds similar to a kiwi.

Harvesting Season: Pitaya is only available in rainy season (June to November).  The fruit grows on a type of cactus that climbs along rocky terrain, walls and often trees.

Nutrition: Pitaya is very low in calories and the seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids. It is high in calcium, vitamin A, C and antioxidants.

Interesting Fact: Pitaya makes your pee and poo electric pink.

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