The following posts are directed at describing certain salient features of Colombian culture that we have encountered upon our travels. These are unguarded observations and attempt to highlight both the good and bad about this really neat country.
9) The Land of Fruit
Perhaps it was silly of me to think that in the age of globalism that enterprising grocery capitalists would have brought every (or at least most) delectable species of fruit to my local grocery store. Especially in a country like Colombia, from which my country already imports a great deal of its fruit. I was dead wrong. Perhaps the most conspicuous aspect of this country is its fruit: its variety, availability, and cost. On a side note, I found it curious that Colombia could have such amazing diversity of flavors in its fruit and not demand the same diversity of flavor in its traditional food.
The fruit cart:
In Colombia, you can count on a seeing a fruit vendor as reliably as you can count on the sun setting a 6:30PM. It is an immutable characteristic of Colombian life. They generally wheel carts stacked high with plump looking fruit of a vast variety.
Going hand in hand with fruit stands are juice bars. Just as ubiquitous, and just as cheap. Furthermore, fresh fruit juice isn’t just available from a juice bar, any cafe, restaurant, or bar is bound to have some deliciously fresh juice. The good stuff is not pre-prepared, rather is blended up in front of you and served with your choice of water or milk (milk was generally better for non-citrus fruits.)
There are a wide variety of exotic Colombian fruits and this article does not attempt to summarize all of them. For a more exhaustive article on Colombian fruits see this article in Medellin Living: 11 Exotic Tropic Fruits of Colombia. However, two fruits that really caught my attention were the Lulo and the Sandia.
Lulo is a member of the nightshade family and appears somewhat like an underripe tomato. It has the oval, lumpy shape, color, and external texture of a tomato. However, the inside is generally green and tastes somewhat like a kiwi. The fruit is called naranjilla outside of Colombia and I have never seen anything like it anywhere else.
The granadilla is perhaps more interesting. It has a tough, waxy orange exterior and juicy, grey seed pods inside — similar to a pomegranate. The taste is sweet, but without the tartness of a citrus fruit. It is an odd flavor and I don’t know of many other tastes to use as a reference point to describe it.
In sum, this country has the freshest, most diverse and available fruits I’ve seen in my life.