Ripened Ovary of a Flower
Editors Note: Comment superstar, Maids, was recently in Colombia. Being a vegetarian and lactose intolerant was somewhat troubling for this traveling foodie. Here’s her story.
So I’m exaggerATING: Colombia isn’t all bad for me food wise. And in fact, I should say again that it is a country with a rich and impressive culinary tradition.
A lot of meaty soups and fishy plates and drunken pigs and all sorts of buttery fried doughy arepa madness… But in a country where the “platos tipicos” include Exhibit: A, B and C, I’m really just missing my kitchen.
I should however let you in on the details about a very special Colombian fruit that is the perfect kinda starchy roasted nutty tasting snack for a hungry lactard veggie gringuita. (By the way, something to know, Colombia sports a 25% lactard population, and thus lactose-free milk is available at a lot of posh little cafes and at all the Juan Valdez coffee spots, the local equivalent of the Starbucks chain coffee place. I mean there is something to be said for having the lactose free milk latte available… Never been a huge fan of soy milk in coffee drinks. Ahem, Starbucks, take note please!)
But I digress.
Chontaduro: okay so it’s a fruit by definition, (you know, as in the ripened ovary of a flower.) But really, it’s more vegetable-like, along the lines of a mini-avocado with a far starchier texture. Actually, it’s like a piece of boiled yuca, but less thready, or a sweet potato but harder… Clearly, it’s very hard to describe, but you get what I’m saying right? It’s been one of my saving graces on my trips to Colombia and has kept me from melting into nothing.
Served after roasting, it has a buttery yummy flavor and is available in a lot of very poor, marginalized areas. Colombian women sell these beautiful little red pieces of heaven on the side of the street everywhere from buenaventura to bogota. When you present the requisite pesitos, they use a razor or paring knife to expertly peel back the thin red skin to reveal the canary yellow pulp of the fruit. They toss a few perfectly peeled fruit into a paper baggy or plastic bolsa and liberally sprinkle coarse grained salt. (I shoulda taken a picture of my colleagues’ plates of fritanga that night …. damn it.)
kisses and hugs and lots of love,