I travel all over the world teaching meditation classes and it's essential for me to feel connected, grounded and at home wherever I land so I can be at my best for my students. I have two rituals that help me to do this.
The first is to always watch the sunrise and sunset on the first day of arrival so I can set my body-clock to the local time.
The second is to pick a ripe, in-season fruit from a tree and eat it. This gives me a strong sense of connection to a place as I am nourishing my body from the local soil and water. As a seasoned fruit explorer I now share my discoveries with you.
Many of these fruits have amazing medicinal qualities and would rightly be considered superfoods but I've selected these fruits because they are outrageously delicious and most people have never even heard of them let alone eaten them. Some are hard to find but all of them are worth the effort.
From The USA
1. American Pawpaw
Photo by American Food Roots
This is the largest native North American fruit and is unrelated to the papaya which is confusingly called a pawpaw outside the USA. From the outside it looks like a small green mango but on the inside the fruit is yellow and juicy. Its flavor is a cross between a mango, a strawberry and a banana. Amazingly it grows natively throughout North America and can be found growing by rivers from Florida to Michigan. You can find it at midwest american farmer's markets in late summer through fall.
Imagine a fruit that tastes and looks exactly like a blueberry except without the acidity and sourness. It grows on trees at perfect picking height and can be grabbed in massive handfuls. Not only that but serviceberry trees are planted all over cities in the eastern USA like New York and Boston. If such a fruit existed everyone would be eating it right? Well it does and amazingly I am often the only person gleefully staining my hands purple as a gorge myself on this feast in June and July. A walk through any New York City park will yield several bags full of berries.
Photo by raggedyann3
If you live in California then you may have seen this delicious native of China growing all over Los Angeles and San Diego. When ripe the golf-ball sized fruits taste like a bit like a peach with a delightful tang. Pro-tip: rub off the fuzz on the outside with a cloth before eating so they don't leave a fuzzy residue on your tongue. They have a long season and stay ripe from spring through fall.
4. Reed Avocado
Yes you've all heard of avocados but the reed avocado is so far beyond the mealy little hass avocados that most supermarkets stock that it is worth the quest and deserves special mention. It is more spherical in shape with smooth skin and a rich, butter-like texture that is purely hedonistic.
Photo by abigailoneill
Have you ever wondered what would happen if a lychee made love with a grape? You're not alone. I think these kinds of thoughts, too and thankfully there's an answer. The jaboticaba is the delicious tangy fruit we've been looking for. Pro-tip: Use your teeth to make an incision into the sour, tough, black skin and squeeze the delicious, white juicy pulp into your mouth.
Photo by thelambsbread
This is without a doubt my favorite fruit in the world. It has the texture of a ripe mango and tastes like lemon meringue pie. It is also bizarre to look at with its spiky little nodules all over. Pro tip: Rollinias have a very small window of ripeness. They'll be green one day and then suddenly turn yellow. If eaten immediately they are delicious. If eaten the next day they devolve into a slimy mush that is unpalatable and gross.
Photo by cousin_cody
If you get a good one then the texture is like having a mouthful of soft bubble gum. It is so sweet that it overwhelms my brain and makes me feel like I'm hallucinating. The fruits are enormous and take months to ripen. Locals will watch a slowly ripening fruit and stake it out months in advance so you have to be quick to get one. Before they fully ripen they are crispy and savory and cooked in curries. This isn't a terrible way to eat them but if you get the chance you should embrace the sloppiness and dive into a fully ripe one.
Frozen, Cold Countries & Mountainous Lands
1. Sea Buckthorn
Photo by havtornbornholm
This delicious orange berry tastes like a cross between a passionfruit and an orange and it can grow in Siberia and Northern Norway. It is increasingly being grown in the USA and Europe for its medicinal oils and antioxidants but the fruits are delicious. Look for ripe fruits at the end of the year and ask local fruit farmers at your farmer's market for tips on getting them. They are not commercialized enough to be easily available yet but many fruit farmers in cold areas grow them for personal consumption.
Photo by papu_137
This one is in the same category of flavors as the cranberry and the pomegranate and like them it is best made into a juice, sauce or jam rather than eaten fresh but if you're like me and can embrace the pucker you might be tempted to bite into them anyway. I think they're delicious. Studious shoppers of ikea might recognize this berry as the ingredient in the jam sold in their store cafe. There are better options for eating them though. Seek them fresh!
I could go on for days writing more of my favorite fruits but now I want to hear yours. Put them in the comments or let me know on twitter. Fruit warriors unite!