Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Peruvian Equivalent of the Pumpkin

On a cooking forum website, some Chilean participants heatedly discuss with Peruvian participants about the lucuma, an exotic orange fruit, that has a thick skin like a melon´s. The forum facilitator writes: "The lucuma is native to Perú." A few posts down, the Chilean participants declare: "It is NOT from Perú! I always knew it was from Chile!" and the discussion gets stronger, as they go on to complain about pisco sour, another firing source of debate. 
In that genuine South American ambiance, we are pulled closer to these two countries, and can now imagine the Incas in MacchuPicchu, amongst green mountains, growing dozens of varieties of beans and peas. 

We can imagine them drinking llama´s milk, too. If we head down to the beach, we could have Peruvian ceviche, or a raw fish cocktail (silky soft morsels of fish meat that are bathed in orange juice and exquisitely adorned with purple onions, a side of sweet potatoes, and a sprinkling of corn kernels).
In the Peruvian lowlands, we would be able to find the lucuma, or zapote (the fruit´s name in Central America) which is a power food that is rich in vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Its fruit or seed has been used to treat anemia, artherosclerosis, or leukemia. 
This second name comes from the aztec "tzapotl", which means soft fruit. It is grown in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, as well as Perú and Chile; several varieties have been tested in Homestead, FL. Some sources state the fruit originated in Central America, then spread to the Caribbean and South America. Others argue that it originated in Perú. The fruit is fibrous, and 
Perú, the largest producer, offers cans of lucuma puree that are readily available to the public, and are exported around the world. The zapote from Central America reportedly has a slightly different texture than its Peruvian counterpart. Its buttery texture reminds me of that of the avocado, and is possibly what makes its fans rave about it: "The lucuma is my favorite fruit!" or "You can find other flavors of ice cream, but none is better than lucuma!"
Peruvian websites offer numerous recipes of lucuma desserts, such as:  panna cotta, dulce de leche,  meringue, etc. Here is a recipe for ice cream, which I imagine must be the best tasting dessert, because it has  a much more incredible effect in your mouth when the cream has been frozen, than when it is at room temperature.

2 zapotes or lucumas
1/2 cup of sugar
4 egg yolks
2 cups of milk
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Remove the pit and skin and any sour-tasting parts of the fruit and mash it by hand, or place it in a food processor. Leave the puree as smooth as possible. Cook the egg yolks, the milk, and sugar in a double-boiler until the resulting custard is thick.  Place it in a closed container in the freezer. Once it is frozen, take it out and serve it. Its creamy, fruity taste will be more delectable when the weather is hot.

Zapote/lucuma ice cream next to Peruvian llama miniatures


List of many fruits and how to eat them:

No comments: