Adventures in Floridian Produce: Zapote

Well, we made a huge mistake and returned to Chicago (10 degrees) from Miami (80 degrees). But over the next week we will bring you highlights of our culinary adventures in south Florida, including our multiple visits to Los Pinarenos, a fruit store famous for its juices and smoothies on Calle Ocho, in the heart of Miami’s Little Havana (review coming soon!)

While sitting outside at Los Pinarenos, sipping our watermelon juices, we looked up at the tree we were sitting under, and grew curious about what kind of fruits it produced. We asked the amiable owner, and he responded it was a zapote. He pointed us to a small group of apple-sized, soft, brown fruits. We had never heard of them, never seen one, and had no idea what they tasted like. So, of course, we bought one!

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Our zapote, fresh from the tree.

Zapote is the Cuban name given to a fruit known widely as the sapodilla, which grows throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Today it is also widely grown in southeast Asia (why didn’t we find it while we were there?), bring introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish. The taste is difficult to describe, but unlike anything else we have had: semi-savory, with nutty hints of cinnamon, it tastes like a lúcuma crossbred with a honeydew and cotton candy, but without as much sugar. When ripe they are quite soft, with the consistency of a soft melon. As such, you can’t just bite it – you need to scoop it out with a fork or a spoon. Still, the flesh comes out a bit grainy, with flecks of tasty zapote goodness.

We were quite mesmerized by this fruit. Has anyone else heard of it? And is there anywhere to get it in Chicago? We’ll keep searching and get back to you. In the meantime, stay tuned for posts from the rest of Miami!

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