May 14th, 2011

What are those things?

Sleep Inn guests might encounter some unusual fruits as they walk around San José. A few vendors near the hotel sell jocotes, manzanas de agua, and nísperos, tropical delicacies that a foreigner might not recognize. For the intrepid fruit-eater, here is an introduction to each.

A jocote looks like a smooth-skinned, miniature potato. It can vary in color from green to red, and it has a large seed. Jocotes grow on trees. The fruit is dryish, rather than juicy, and the eater mostly gnaws at its flesh. In Central America, people often salt their jocotes as they eat them. For some, jocotes are eaten more as a pastime than for their delicious flavor.

A manzana de agua–or “water apple,”–looks like a pale and slightly elongated apple or, perhaps, like a pale red pear. This fruit grows on trees as well. True to its name, the manzana de agua mostly tastes watery, although its flesh does have a slight sweetness. The fruit is so aromatic that some people describe its flavor as more of a perfumed fragrance than an actual taste.

The níspero is a fragrant yellow fruit that is small, like a grape, and slightly fuzzy. It, too, grows on trees and has a few shiny, brown seeds. The flesh of the níspero is sweet and fragrant, once again seeming almost like an aroma, as well as a flavor. In other countries, nísperos are known as “loquats.”

Of the three, we tend to recommend nísperos, as their flavor coyly suggests the tropics.

Read more about unusual Costa Rican fruits and an interesting Costa Rican vegetable.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
May 14th, 2010

Pasta de Guayaba

One of Latin America’s best culinary concoctions is pasta de guayaba, or guava paste. Made from the aromatic and seed-filled guava fruit, this paste is almost as good as candy and incredibly versatile. The Sleep Inn blogging team has a few recommendations for happy guava paste-eating as a great leisure-time activity.

On their own, guavas can be difficult to eat. Their flesh is peach-colored and sweet, but it surrounds a core of pulpy seeds that some people find unnerving. When most people eat guavas right off the tree, they either swallow the seeds whole or spit them out, often making for messy eating. Another drawback to the guava is its attractiveness to worms. Any fruit that lands on the ground almost immediately becomes a home for worms, making tree-climbing a near-requirement for the enjoyment of the fresh fruit.

Guava paste solves all of these problems. Made by cooking the guava flesh with some sugar, the paste has no seeds and, of course, no worms. It’s also conveniently available in every grocery store. In Costa Rica, the paste often comes in flat rectangular “bars,” perfect for slicing and eating plain. However, several interesting combinations can enliven the basic guava paste.

Some people layer squares of guava paste and cheese, spearing both with a toothpick. Queso fresco, the mild Costa Rican cheese, is an ideal cheese accompaniment to guava paste. The layered mouthful is a charming combination of sweetness and mild creaminess, and it makes a perfect hors d’oeuvre.

Other people enliven their guava paste-cheese combination with a cocktail onion. The addition of the onion provides a tangy and crunchy counterpart to the fruit and cheese.

Guava paste is so mild and sweet that it also pairs nicely with very spicy flavors. Some people like to eat it with jalapeño, a tingling treat for lovers of the classic sweet/spicy flavor combination.

Of course, guava paste can substitute for jam or jelly in any kind of sandwich or bread combination. Some cooks also use it as a glaze for ham or pork, and others use it in the place of jam in baked fruit desserts.

We recommend guava paste in all its forms, and we welcome blog readers to write and let us know about their own guava paste concoctions.

Writing and editing by Beaumont Hardy Editing.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...