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Maui on my Mind, Part 15

Not everyone contributing to the Maui Fair is growing orchids — some folks are raising bananas. These appear to be striped bananas which I have learned are called A‘ea‘e in Hawaiian (or more commonly known as the Dwarf Hawaiian Variegated Banana and sometimes the Sacred Banana). They are highly prized and sought after in Hawai‘i as evidenced by the "Best in Show" ribbon as well as a "First Place" ribbon. I have never tasted one — but would love to try them.

These are Cuban Red Bananas. The skin starts out green but then takes on a red, reddish-purple, reddish-orange, orange or even a yellow color. The flesh is cream to light pink in color.

I have never tasted one of these either but according to Wikipedia, they are "sweeter than the yellow Cavendish varieties, some with a slight raspberry flavor and others with an earthy one".

This odd-looking but colorful fruit is called a "Dragon Fruit" and is produced on a variety of cactus. The interior, most commonly, is white with small black seeds. Rachael Ray says, "It actually has a mild kiwi-ish flavor. Halve it, then scoop the flesh out with a spoon. Eat it straight, or serve it with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of salt and ancho chile powder. The empty skin makes a fun single-serving bowl for fruit salad."

I was not familiar with this fruit but discovered that it goes by the names pitanga, Suriname cherry, Brazilian cherry, Cayenne cherry, or Cerisier Carré, or the scientific name, Eugenia uniflora. Wikipedia says, "The edible fruit is a botanical berry. The taste ranges from sweet to sour, depending on the cultivar and level of ripeness (the darker red to black range is quite sweet, while the green to orange range is strikingly tart). Its predominant food use is as a flavoring and base for jams and jellies. The fruit is high in vitamin C and a source of vitamin A."

Next up is a plate of Passion Fruit or as it is known in Hawai‘i, Lilikoi. The flesh is watery and full of seeds. It is most often used for juice such as POG (Passion fruit, Orange, Guava) — one of my favorites.

These are avocados, growing much larger than those we are used to seeing on the mainland, which generally are the Haas variety.

The tags do not identify the variety but they bring to mind the fact that one variety, Sharwil, is now getting approvals for importation to the mainland. It was previously halted because of a mistaken concern about a parasitic fly that was thought to have been carried on the fruit. Now with the importation approvals, you may see the Sharwil whose skin does not turn black and whose flesh supposedly has the familiar buttery flesh with a deliciously rich, nutty flavor. We'll have to try one.

And these are star fruit, a most unusual looking specimen. The entire fruit is edible including the skin. The flesh is crunchy and very juicy, somewhat similar to the texture of grapes. According to Wikipedia, "The taste is difficult to match, but it has been compared to a mix of apple, pear, grape, and citrus family fruits."

The next plate contains Persimmons. According to the tag, these are the Fuyu variety which lacks a core, seeds, and tannins. According to specialtyproduce.com, "When ripe, Fuyu persimmons possess layers of flavor, reminiscent of pear, dates and brown sugar with nuances of cinnamon."

Here are my favorite nuts — Macadamia nuts. As far as I know, they are not grown commercially on Maui but there are large plantations on the Big Island. I have visited one there and learned that the shells are very hard to crack open. But once you do, you get that delicacy inside. Or you can simply visit Costco and buy a good supply — best if coated in chocolate.

Last for this section of the displays of agricultural products is the First Place winner for Sugar Cane. Sadly, this crop is no longer grown commercially anywhere in the Hawaiian Islands — ending some 180 years of commercial cultivation in 2016. Sugar cane was originally brought here by the ancient Polynesians who first discovered the islands on which they established their early society. Cane was often used to line the terraced patches where taro and sweet potato were grown. Later the Hawaiians traded sugar cane for iron nails, etc. with the European sailors. Later after the Europeans acquired large tracts of land, they established the sugar industry which lasted so long.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

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