Feature Foreign Fruit: Lulo
Last Thursday, I went to the market unsuspecting of the surprise awaiting me there. I spotted a fruit that I’d never seen before and eagerly asked the vendor what it was called and how it was typically eaten, already starting to take mental notes for the blog post I would write. He told me the small orange fruit was called “lulo” and it was typically juiced. I got home and googled it…and found that lulo is also called “naranjilla” (little orange, in Spanish). And, personal drum roll, naranjilla just happens to be my very favorite fruit in Latin America. Why was I SO excited? Well, I have never found naranjilla outside of Ecuador, where I originally tasted it. Since I haven’t been in Ecuador since 2003, it has been a long (much too long!) time since I’ve had it. (To try to put this in perspective, it was like stumbling upon a restaurant in Timbuktu that serves your favorite dish that only your mom makes.) I didn’t recognize lulo immediately as naranjilla because I never actually saw the whole fruit when I was in Ecuador; I only bought it in juice form. Last Thursday is the kind of day I live for in the Foreign Service–the little but delightful surprises you never know when you’re going to get!
Now on to describing the fruit itself…On the outside, its skin feels much like an orange’s rind although with a much finer grain and much thinner. On the inside, the flesh is divided in quarters with a bunch of small, hard green seeds in the center and light green grape-like flesh in the outer part. If you taste the flesh on its own, it’s quite tart so I can see why it is typically mixed with sugar and milk or water to make juice. But, and here’s the best part, its smell is quite sweet–like orange and strawberry mixed together. Just beautiful (contented sigh).