Tamarillos, what a bizarre fruit
I can’t help but question some of Mother Nature’s fruits. Not necessarily because I dislike them, but because I find them…strange.
Take the above tamarillos, for example.
Their bright red color may look appealing. They may even remind you of tomatoes both because of their name and their pulp. Yet, they don’t belong to the same family.
These oval-shaped fruits boast a bright red or orange flesh. When cut crosswise, they reveal a circle of tiny dark edible seeds that give them a crunch. Sweet with a light perfume, tamarillos have a mild taste that, today, leaves me unimpressed. I can’t say I dislike them but I can’t say I like them either. I consider this indifference a progress.
Up until recently, I did not like that fruit at all.
In fact, ever since our first encounter many moons ago, I avoided them at all cost. I discovered tamarillos at a young age back when I still went hiking with my dad and his friends. As I mention in my wild berries article, these long walks always included a fruity feast upon our arrival in Kenscoff, the town nearest to our mountain home.
Since they had a curious palate, the grown ups tried everything and anything, including tamarillos, which my aunt and dad immediately embraced. My dad even bought seedlings.
The fruits we harvest today come from that frail but generous tree. In recent years, it decided to spoil us with a few dozen fruits at a time. Yet, with my dad being the only one in our household to like them, we often leave them hanging on its branches until they drop to the ground.
We simply don’t understand tamarillos
Neither do we know how to best eat them. My dad mostly enjoys their thick juice to which he often adds milk, turning it into an unappealing pink puree. I don’t think I ever saw him truly enjoy the fruit as is. For years, I could not even tell you how to proceed to eat the fruit.
It took my wanting to write about it for me to finally Google tamarillos. I discovered that they can be enjoyed raw, as a fruity salad or even a jam. For the purpose of this article, I chose to go with a simple salsa, however. I chopped the fruit and mixed it with chopped ripe and green tomatoes, and seasoned the mixture with salt, pepper, piment bouc, fresh garlic, chopped parsley and ti bonm, lime juice and olive oil just like I would a regular tomato salsa.
While the end result was edible, and I enjoyed it with crackers and a glass of wine, I must say that tomatillo salsa left me unimpressed. It lacked a je ne sais quoi. It didn’t pop or leave any taste on my palate, which quickly forgot it.
Will I be making this salsa again? Probably. But mostly for the sake of trying to understand Mother Nature and its choice of producing these fruits. I simply don’t understand tamarillos.