Blog by MBP Volunteer, Annie
Strange and delightful fruits abound in southeastern Madagascar, and it’s no wonder the Varecia eat mostly fruits, even if they are not always the same ones as people eat! I recently went a little crazy at the fruit market in Mananjary, and took a picture of all my “Voandalo” (“Fruits of the Road”), as it is called when you bring back gifts after traveling.
When I first arrived the pocanel (aka the custard apple) was in its prime and the lemurs were eating it in one of our sites. This fruit (the middle pair in the photo) is light green, spikey, and filled with soft juicy fruit that has a similar texture to custard, except for the black seeds. I was especially thrilled to find a soursop (aka corrossol, the large middle fruit) in Mananjary, the seaside town. I think it is mostly out of season, and is not sold around KAFS. It is similarly green and spiky, and the inside is also white with black seeds, but the taste is different and the fruit has a tough texture once you chew it a bit, which some people don’t like. I love it in all forms, and can highly recommend the juice (or ice cream!) if the texture is off-putting because it is really tasty.
Less bizarre are the oranges and mandarins (pictured), which are sweet and yummy and don’t have hardly any seeds (win!). I also tried some mysterious large citrus fruit that could have been a sweet grapefruit, since it sort of tasted like that, but the white stuff was edible, unlike most grapefruits. We have nicknamed a different citrus fruit a “Lorange” because it tastes kind of like a lemon crossed with an orange, but is still pretty sweet. There are some growing around KAFS and one day we made lemonade from them, which was nice because they were so sweet already that we didn’t really have to add much sugar.
Another fruit that has become abundant is called the “zevy.” It looks like a small cucumber or passion fruit, and is orange and greenish (the oblong ones around the edge of the fruit pile). I like to wait until mine gets a bit soft before eating it, but it’s also good hard. You have to peel off the thin but tough skin, and then gnaw on the orange bit underneath, which is sweet and sour. The bit in the middle is especially good, but you can only eat a little bit before you run into this stringy, solid, and bitter starchy bit that must be like the seed.
Lychee vazah is also apparently coming in season. It’s not the super exciting lychee that comes out in the rainy season, but instead some foreign variety. The outside shell is this funny fuzzy red stuff, and then the inside is white, soft, and gummy, just as I remember lychee tasting when it came out of those little containers at the big Asian import store at home. These were sweet and juicy, but the pit was kind of hard to separate from the fruit, so they took a lot of extra chewing.
The other “fruits of the road” in the picture are coconuts, which are also amazing, especially when you get some of the coconut milk as well as the hard interior.
The pineapples and papayas, when we get them for dinner or lunch, are also pretty tasty. Someone in the nearby town has some gigantic papayas growing in their backyard. They are seriously the biggest I’ve ever seen, like massive watermelons that look like they will fall off the comparatively small-trunked tree at any moment!