For those of you who are novices in the exotic fruit category, the Cherimoya is a subtropical fruit that grows in California and contra-seasonally in Chile and New Zealand (and probably in other countries that I do not know about).
I like to describe its looks as a cross between an artichoke and a hand grenade! (Got the picture?)
Besides the fabulous flavor (smooth vanilla-pineapple-pear-custard), my special closeness to Cherimoyas came when I was a senior at University of California, Davis. I was taking a marketing class and my partner, Bill Vinnicombe and I had to put together a marketing plan and present it to the class.
Since I had worked every summer with my mom in the produce business, I suggested we do our marketing project on Cherimoyas, one of the fruits that we sold on the produce market. Mom had just become the Green Grocer on ABC-TV in Los Angeles, so I already had ideas about how we could dazzle our class with our marketing ideas: Mark Twain described Cherimoyas as “deliciousness itself.” The Spanish name “Cherimoya” means “cold seeds,” and describes the dark brown inedible seeds inside the fruit.
As we researched our project, we discovered that each Cherimoya has to be hand-pollinated with a brush (with the farmers climbing up tall ladders to reach the fruit blossoms). This explained why Cherimoyas are always so much more expensive than other subtropical fruits.
Well, Bill was the “Green Grocer” that day in class and I was his back up. We got an A+ on our marketing project (I think the free samples of ripe Cherimoyas that we handed out helped). And my love of Cherimoyas grew.
So, when I was traveling to the magnificent country of Chile 10 years ago, I didn’t mind the 4 hour drive from Santiago to La Serena. In La Serena, I got the chance to meet many wonderful, hospitable Cherimoya growers and their families, and had a chance to taste the national dessert of Chile: Large, thick slices of Cherimoya (the size of a dinner plate), drizzled with freshly-squeezed orange juice. Mmmm…The perfect dessert.
So, next time you are at your local farmer’s market or grocery store, and see those high-priced, green, bumpy Cherimoyas, I invite you to buy one. Do not refrigerate them, but put them on the counter and let them get soft like an avocado. Then slice them, remove the seeds and skin and enjoy!
Mark Twain was right. Deliciousness itself!