I’ve got a comparison list between foodstuff here and in my country. It shows which things I like more where, based in flavour or other reasons. The flavour part is interesting because all the basic ingredients of Peruvian cuisine have, in my opinion, better flavour in my country. Meaning that no matter how a great cook you are, you will never be able to duplicate Peruvian dishes here, because unlike Asian ingredients, most Peruvian ones cannot be imported in Australia or NZ. Bummer.
When I came up with that list got me thinking about some interesting things. For example, how lack of flavour can actually make you like something. To give you an example, my sister (the one who lives here) couldn’t eat prawns or shrimp in Peru. Not because she’s allergic, but because she couldn’t stand the taste or smell. Here, she eats them with no problem because (excuse me, Aussies) they’re pretty bland.
Some weeks ago I went to the supermarket and saw a fruit that looked awfully familiar. It looked like a chirimoya (the sign said “custard apple”) so I bought it and asked Alvaro to taste it.
I’ve hated chirimoyas and their cousins guanábanas forever. They’re very similar and because I don’t like them I haven’t bothered to learn the differences between them. I just know that the only way I can get guanábanas in my system is in a hot drink/dessert called champús, because their flavour is disguised with the mote (a kind of corn), pineapple, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. Any other dessert featuring chirimoyas or guanábanas is immediately rejected. Once we went trekking with some friends and passed by a town called Cumbe, famous by its chirimoyas. My friends picked some ripe giant ones that had fallen from the trees and said they were amazing. I didn’t even taste them.
Fast forward to that day at home with the custard apple bought in Foodworks, Alvaro had a look inside, took a bite and confirmed it was a chirimoya. I remembered my Italian cuisine instructor in school who urged us taste everything that crossed our paths in order to record flavours, and had a bite too. I can’t say I loved it but it wasn’t bad. It didn’t have the strong flavour in the Peruvian fruit that most people love, it was (like prawns) pretty bland, so I ate a whole half.
I took a couple of pics of the thing, but they were very dark. The fruit itself was dark because it was overripe, so I bought a prettier one and (again!) ate half of it (not after taking the shots used in this post). I cannot say I like chirimoyas now but I can definitely eat the Aussie ones because of their lack of flavour (excuse me again).
If you like custard apples and some day find yourself in Peru, you must try a chirimoya. I bet you’ll love it.