Guava, green or ripe?

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It’s amazing how big of an impact childhood memories can have on the one who recalls them. Just yesterday, I caught myself giggling at the sight of the small green unripe guavas hanging from our guava tree right outside our kitchen.

I giggled because that sight brought me back in time; back to at least 20 years ago to my six-seven year-old self who thoroughly enjoyed those green fruits. For some odd reason, I loved picking unripe guavas from the tree to eat them. My child’s palate loved its bitter, sometimes sour flesh, which had a leafy taste to it, that I had to spit out after sucking the juice out of it for the fruit was so unripe that I couldn’t swallow it.

It was a constant battle with the grownups around me as I ignored their warnings that eating an unripe fruit would make me sick. Truth is, back then, I strongly believed they only said so because they wanted me to let the fruits ripen so they could enjoy them without me. I didn’t like the ripe fruit at all, not necessarily because I disliked its taste, but because it terrified me.

Now before you start calling me all sorts of crazy, let me tell you that there was a reason to my six year-old self’s madness. It was based on those childhood stories they tell you to either impress or scare you without thinking of the impact it could actually have on you. I have no idea where that came from, but I had been told that the yellow fully ripe fruit got its pink flesh from the many worms that penetrated it. This statement was enough to scare me. The few times I was handed a ripe guava, I saw its flesh moving. I never could decide whether it was really moving or a fruit of my vivid imagination, especially since I had seen so many pink earthworms in our yard. There was simply no way they wouldn’t climb up that guava tree and colonize its fruits. For otherwise, how could its flesh be so pink? Such was my reasoning back then. Eating unripe guavas was thus my only recourse to avoid eating worms while still enjoying the fruit as much as everyone else did.

Today, at 28, I know my imagination played many tricks on me as a child. I also know that, though guavas can have worms, it doesn’t mean that they all do. Yet, I still can’t get myself to take one bite of that fruit. I am still reluctant to bite its pink seedy flesh.

I am proud to say that I have, however, made a strong effort to try and get used to guava’s taste. Though I may eat it in small quantities, I try to train my palate to appreciate the guava pastries sold here. Hopefully, I will also eventually acquire a taste for the guava jelly and guava paste we make here in Haiti. Something tells me, eating the real fruit will take a while. I blame it on that story that scarred me for life.

As I giggle one last time, I vow never to scare my kids from a fruit with such stories.

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