Saturday, July 03, 2010

Chilean Carica

I've seen this specialty fruit packed in jars for sale in several supermarkets, but always it seemed too expensive to try, until recently when I bought it on sale (for half-price).The Chilean Carica, also known as the Chilean Golden Papaya or Chilean Mountain Papaya (and the fruit looks golden), grows wild in the mountains of Chile, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru; it grows in limited quantities, thus is really a local delicacy that has recently been exported. Like plantains or chestnuts, carica fruit must be cooked to be eaten (usually poached); even in Chile you buy them in a jar. Nutritionally, carica is rich in Vitamin C, fiber and the papaina enzyme (same as papaya). It can be used in any number of ways, from dessert to cocktails to pairing with seafood or meat.

The flavour of the carica is supposed to remind one of papaya, peach, pear and other fruits. Definitely it has a crispier texture than other fruits I have eaten preserved in cans, and it does remind me of a pear with a peach flavour, though really different than those two. These are quite expensive, so I doubt that I would eat them on a regular basis, but for special occasions, and substituting them for another fruit in a dish would be quite interesting for dinner parties, I would think.

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