My pawpaw hunt has ended with success.
For the first time in nearly 30 years, I've tasted one. But first, let's back up a little.
Pawpaws are a wild fruit, about the size of your fist, They grow on trees and are pollinated by flies - not bees. The trees are not bothered by pests. The taste is hard to describe - many people describe it as a cross between a banana and a mango. Back 30 years ago, I had never had a mango, so my memory described it as a "banana on steroids". They are highly nutritious, and high in antioxidants.
I first encountered the pawpaw growing wild in rural Northwest Arkansas, in the early 1980's. I saw a pawpaw tree (above) growing in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas in August, during my first visit since leaving in 1986, and those pawpaw memories came flying back.
Thomas Jefferson grew pawpaws at Monticello, and they grow wild in the Washington, DC area.
You can also buy cultivated varieties, some of which would be hardy where I live in upstate New York.
A lot of this is the work of one man, and the story of the pawpaw is getting to be quite fascinating..
And then I read a local farmers market report saying pawpaws were being sold, in limited quantities, right here in the Binghamton area.
Last Saturday, my spouse and I walked into our localvore store, Old Barn Hollow (in walking distance of downtown Binghamton) and this sight greeted us:
This is the pawpaw, cut open. The seeds are not edible, as far as I know.
We took the soft flesch and scooped it out of the skin, and ate it just like that.
Verdict: I still think they taste like a banana on steroids. I still tasted the slightly unpleasant undertone, but it wouldn't prevent me from eating it. It would be great baked into a pie, or even blended into a smoothie with strawberries. So yes, I would eat one again, especially if it was one of a number of ingredients in a dessert.
Now as to those seeds - yes, we are going to try to germinate them. More on that another time.
So, I really didn't have to stalk the wild pawpaw-but I would still love to find a wild pawpaw tree I could get fruit from.
Now if I could only find the wild persimmons I still remember from Arkansas.....