Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Maui Fair Fruit

Every County Fair includes exhibits by the kids in 4H. On the mainland, they will show their handiwork from growing apples, tomatoes, corn, soybeans, etc. On Maui, the produce is a bit more exotic. For instance, how many of you have ever eaten Carambola, better known as star fruit? The flesh is crunchy, firm and extremely juicy — with a slightly sweet/tart taste. Some say it is a mix of apple, pear and citrus.

And next up were passion fruit. They start as a passion flower growing on a passion vine. I previously published a LAHP issue which included a number of passion flower photos. Click here to refresh your memory.

Passion fruit and its juice are common in Hawai`i (try passion fruit crème brûlée sometime), most easily found in POG — Passion, Orange, Guava — that delightful beverage that originated with Haleakala Dairy on Maui but is now produced by Meadow Gold.

I have to confess that I originally misidentified this fruit as guavas (yes, the third fruit juice in POG), which are very prolific because the fruit and juice are much loved by humans, mammals and birds — thus spreading the seeds and propagating the species widely. In fact, they are now considered an invasive species in Hawai`i.

One of my favorite memories of guava was from a trip to Hana during the height of the fruiting season. Guava trees growing along the road had dropped a lot of fruit and the passing cars ran over them releasing that wonderful fragrance of guava juice. To this day, the smell of guava brings back that lovely recollection.

Wow! It looks like a giant breadfruit but is actually jackfruit, a close relative. The flesh is starchy, fibrous and a source of dietary fiber. The taste is supposedly similar to a tart banana — that characterization is based on Wikipedia since I have never tasted one.

Next I encountered a fruit I had never seen before — a dragon fruit. Native to Central and South America, it has been introduced to Hawai`i. The plant actually is a kind of cactus — not surprising considering the place of its origin. According to one online reference, the flesh is sweet and crunchy with a flavor that is a cross between kiwi and pear.

At least it is easy to recognize this plate of peppers. As I have mentioned before, many different ethnic groups have settled in Hawai`i over the years. Many of them enjoy hot and spicy flavors in their native cuisines — thus this entry in the exhibition.

Macadamia nuts are synonymous with Hawai`i — but, of course, they are not native to the islands, having been introduced from Australia. The shells are extremely hard and must be opened with a vise or a hammer. But it is well worth the effort to release the tasty nut contained therein. Some people will subsequently encase the nut in chocolate — the taste is said to be heavenly. I wouldn't argue with that opinion.

Everyone knows bananas — or do they? These are apple bananas and have a wonderful rich banana flavor — some aficionados claim hints of apple and strawberry. They are nothing like the bananas found in grocery stores on the mainland which are picked green and gassed to turn yellow — the result being a banana that looks good but with no taste. Unfortunately, apple bananas are a bit fragile and cannot be shipped overseas. This one of my favorite treats when I visit Hawai`i (one may need to visit a Farmer's Market to find them).

Here is a first for me — an orange banana. I have seen and eaten both yellow and red (and the occasional brown) bananas but never orange. I would have loved to try one. Unfortunately, no free samples.

Another surprise — a banana with racing stripes — another item to add to the bucket list.

And just when you think you've seen every type of banana there is, you find a square banana. Actually, there might be a nice benefit to this form factor. Have you ever tried to fit a typical Cavendish banana in a kid's lunch box? Wouldn't a square banana fit better?

Last but not least is a pineapple. For years, Kapalua (next door to Napili where I stay on Maui) was the site of a huge pineapple plantation. When I was on Maui this year I learned that Maui Land and Pineapple had decided to cease commercial production of pineapples (after nearly a century of farming) except for smaller plots for development of new varieties. Maui Gold pineapples were known for their sweet, non-acidic taste and they will be missed. But also, nearly 300 employees have lost their jobs — let's hope they find employment elsewhere — knowing how difficult that is with our current economy.

To be continued…


Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com