One of the joys of Paraguay is the abundance of fruit. There are plenty of fruits available for sale in street markets and supermarkets, as well as from vendors at stoplights. There are fruit trees in the plazas and most Paraguayan homes have at least one if not several fruit trees and plants in the yard. Mangoes, oranges, lemons, tangerines, passion fruit, the list goes on and on.

A close up of a fruit tree

To foreigners some fruits may be more exotic than others. One particularly bizzare looking, but tasty, fruit is the custard apple. That´s “chi” (cheese) “ri” (retail) “mo” (motel) “ya” (jumbalaya). Chirimoya is also known as “aratiku´i” in Guarani. Custard apples are light green with a large bumpy exterior. For lack of a better term I´d describe the bumps as large green warts (I´m open to suggestions). The “warts” start off tightly packed. As custard apples ripen the warts grow and the skin between them turns a pale yellow. The yellow areas will start to get wider and softer. At this point they should be picked and allowed to ripen indoors for a couple of days. You could just let them continue to ripen on the tree but there is a risk.

A hand holding a sandwich

A custard apple is dead ripe when it begins to split along the yellow parts between the warts and can be pulled apart easily by hand. The interior is full of pointy shaped, creamy white sections that separate easily from the outer skin. Encased in almost all sections is a half inch long dark oval seed. If you are a meticulous sort of person it can be fun to eat a chirimoya section by section. If not then just shove a whole chunk in your mouth and spit out the seeds! To me custard apples taste like a creamier version of a pear with a little bit of green apple flavor. How would you describe them?

A sandwich cut in half