Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ciruela and Tamarindo

Ciruela and Tamarindo are exotic fruits that I had never tried before.  I have been eating them a lot here, as they are popular mid-afternoon snacks.

This is a Tamarindo pod.  The Tamarino plant originated in Africa, specifically Sudan where it grows wild and in plenty.  North Africa, the Middle East, and India eventually started cultivating the tree and apparently Tamarindo is found as an ingredient in a lot of popular Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern dishes.  In Western cooking, it is found in Worcestershire sauce among other sauces and drinks.  If you were to take a seed out of the pod and suck on it, it would be very sour and acidic like a lemon.  It is very pulpy with plenty of fiber and, believe it or not, it is high in calcium.  Medicinally, it is consumed as a natural laxative.   It was introduced heavily to Mexico and the rest of Latin America when the Spanish and Portuguese colonized the continent.

Abuelito told me a story about the Tamarindo fruit when we were discussing the Honduran economy.  While talking about the economy, we were enjoying a glass of Tamarindo juice.  I told him it was probably my favorite new thing I have tried since I have been here.  He told me a story that reminded me of Chinese folklore or something Confucius would write to teach someone a valuable life lesson.  He said a man came to him a couple years back and asked him for money because he was poor.  Abuelito asked him why he was poor.  He said he couldn't find work because there were no jobs around.  Abuelito knew the man's family from around town.  He said, "Doesn't your family own a good amount of uncultivated land outside the city?"  The man confirmed that he owned about 100 manzanas (1 Manzana=1.7 acres) of land just outside of town.  Abuelito explained to the man that he had more land than most of the rich people in the city.  Abuelito suggested that he cultivate Tamarindo trees and sell them locally as well as export them out of the country.  He told the man that in seven years he would literally be a millionaire.  The man said, "But you aren't listening, I am poor right now!

Abuelito said that is the kind of attitude Hondurans have.  They have absolutely no foresight in business.  They have absolutely no concept of working hard now so that you can benefit later.  Abuelito began a long rant against his own race and ended by saying, "this is why I am glad you are here, maybe you can talk some sense into our country."  Talk sense?  All I could think about was buying land and being a millionaire in 7 years.
This is the Ciruela.  It is a vibrantly green fruit that comes from a tree about the same size as the Tamarindo.  Hondurans sell Ciruela in clear plastic bags sprinkled generously with salt.  It took me a great deal of time to look this fruit up on the internet because it has a weird pronunciation--it is pronounced Sid-well-uh.  I asked a couple people how to spell it and they all gave me definitive answers, none of which were correct, until I asked another teacher at the school.  She helped me look it up.  Upon looking it up, I found that Ciruela means plum in Spanish.  It is either one of two things--they either pick the fruit and eat it early, or it is an entirely different species of plum.  Its taste is sour and acidic, hence the salt.  We have a Ciruela tree that is just about to sprout in our backyard and I cant wait for the harvest.  The fruit has very little calories and is actually entertaining to eat because of the pit inside.  I always try to drop-kick the pit as far as I can.  Ciruela seems to be a favorite snack among Hondurans.

C.S. Hundred Dollar Challenge--With 100 U.S. Dollars, you could buy 4,534 delicious Ciruelas.

Quote of the Day: "Productivity is never an accident.  It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort."

1 comment: