Hawaii grows many tropical fruits that we on the mainland don’t commonly see: guava, mangosteen, jack fruit, starfruit, rambutan, lychee, longan. There are, of course, pineapples, coconuts and banana.
We saw several varieties of mango at the Hilo Farmers Market. The one we purchased is called a rapozo, huge and heavy with juice. Slicing into it released golden juices that spread all over the cutting board. The flesh was creamy and luscious, with no fibrousness, and sweet. A spoon was all that was needed to free it from the skin. I personally prefer the Keitt mango that I can get back at home in season, with its similarly smooth flesh but more intense flavor and underlying tartness, though the rapoza is a wonderful mango.
We had been looking forward to finding passionfruit on the islands. Without question, it’s our favorite tropical fruit. The ones we see on the mainland are purple, no more than two inches in diameter, with shriveled skin (preferred). They are imported from New Zealand, where we’ve eaten them by the fistful. But, in Hawaii, lilikoi, which the Hawaiians call the fruit, is yellow, oblong and about 4 inches in length. The pulp inside, gelatinous and clinging to the edible seeds, have the same heady, perfumey aroma and is sweet with that unmistakeable, indescribable tropical flavor. But the characteristic we noticed that was different from New Zealand’s was its tartness. It hadn’t occurred to us until we took our first bite that the wonderful housemade lilikoi syrup at Ken’s House of Pancakes and the to-die-for lilikoi jam at Ed’s Bakery (June Edmoundson gave us the lilikoi) had an underlying tartness.
We enjoyed both mango and lilikoi for breakfast yesterday.