We were browsing through the shops of the Christchurch Arts Centre when we came across one that showcased NZ food items. One of them was a chutney made from fruit we’d never heard of: feijoa. The proprietress claimed that we’d either love it or hate it (kinda like cilantro, I thought). We tried a sample of the real fruit which she was kind enough to bring out and slice up for us. Immediately, we were struck by its aromatic, very floral taste. With us, it was a hit.
Later, we noticed the fruit was being sold in the supermarket produce section. Naturally, we bought a few to try. It wasn’t clear how to eat them, let alone tell when they were ripe enough. The fleshy part has a gritty, pear-like texture and has a pleasant enough flavor. But, the center gelatinous pulp with its edible seeds is feijoa’s crowning glory, where the essence of its wonderful flavor resides. My son-in-law tried one by cutting off one end, then squeezing the fruit to release its pulp directly into his mouth. Others of us did the same. Everyone loved it. While this is a quick and dirty way to eat feijoa, it certainly seemed wasteful to me. The flesh was not being eaten. The common way, it turns out, is to slice the fruit in half and spoon out the inside, flesh and pulp.
Though it originated in South America, feijoa is abundant in New Zealand. Despite its tropical flavor, it does quite well in mid-latitudes. The flower is very showy with large white petals and a crown of red stamens.
Apparently, you can’t pick the fruit from the tree, otherwise it won’t be fully ripe. It’s ready when it drops of its own accord. So, it’s best to take along a book, sit under the tree and wait for an Isaac Newton moment.