When I’m traveling, some of my favorite places to visit are local markets because you can find cheap fruits and food typical of the region. So when you come to Colombia, one of the best things to do is to try Colombian fruits like mamoncillo, gulupa, mangosteen, tomate de árbol (tree tomato), granadilla, etc. The best places to go and eat them are the district markets all around in Bogotá.
When you arrive at the market, you want to buy tons of fruit. But the real problem comes after: how I do eat it? Foreigners (or at least some of them) might buy the wrong fruit or eat certain fruits incorrectly. For example, they might buy a plantain thinking it was a banana, or you may see people eating maracuyá, curuba, or lulo with a spoon – for me and I think for other Colombians as well, it is a little bit weird to see this because we usually only use these fruits in juices or desserts.
The district markets, especially Paloquemao which is one of the biggest in Bogotá, are the perfect places to find and buy fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, etc.
Now it’s time to see some of these fruits and learn how Colombians eat them!
Mamoncillo is the Colombian lychee. Its skin is green and it is orange inside.
How to eat it:
- First, you need to take off the skin.
- Then, you put the entire fruit in your mouth and start sucking the pulp until you reach the pit. The flavor is sweet at the beginning and a little bit sour at the end.
Pitahaya (Dragon fruit)
This fruit grows on a cactus and is one of the favorite fruits for foreigners! Why? Because despite its crazy appearance on the outside, inside it is super sweet and juicy with a completely unique and delicious flavor. This oval fruit has leathery yellow skin covered in scales and spikes but the inside is juicy, soft, and white with small black seeds.
The pitahaya has many benefits like:
- Loaded with fiber
- High in nutrients
- Rich in antioxidants
How to eat it:
- Cut the fruit in half lengthwise from one end to the other
- Then, eat it with a spoon. You can eat and bite the seeds.
Copyright @Photo by eldiario.es
If you go to the famous restaurant Andres Carne de Res, you are going to find this fruit as a juice and it’s one of my favorite ones!
Gulupa is from the family of maracuyá (passion fruit). Its skin is purple and its inside is yellow with black seeds. I recommend you buy the gulupa when it looks dry and wrinkly which means that the fruit is ripe and will be sweeter.
How to eat it
Normally, Colombians eat maracuyá and gulupa in juice or as part of a dessert, so if you try to eat one with a spoon, expect that more than one Colombian will ask you why you are eating it like that.
This “fruit” is one of the most popular ones in Colombia. For us, a plátano is different than a banana and you are going to find it in many of the typical dishes in Colombia.
We have two ways to eat it :
- If you want to eat a savory plantain, you have to buy an unripe green one.
- If you want a sweeter one, you have to buy a ripe yellow one.
- If you want to eat a really sweet one, buy a plantain that is softer and a little bit black.
How to cook it:
- The most popular way is to fry it.
- Another popular method is to cut open the ripe plantain as if it were a hot dog bun, stuff it with cheese and bocadillo (guava candy), and then cook in the oven.
Granadilla (called “monkey brain” in English) is a really exotic fruit. The skin is hard but inside you will find a soft and sweet pulp with black seeds. This is one of the first fruits Colombians try when we are babies. Why? Because this fruit helps with digestion and also has amazing benefits like:
- Has natural sedative effects
- Helps heal ulcers
- Has a high fiber content if consumed with the seeds
How to eat it
First, grab the granadilla by the stem like a maraca and then crack open the non-stem end with your hands or with a spoon. Start eating it; some people chew the seeds and others swallow the entire pulp.
Tomate de Árbol (Tree Tomato)
Maybe the first thing you imagine is the vegetable, but no. The tree tomato fruit is egg-shaped. The skin can be orange, yellow, and sometimes red. The pulp is juicy and sour with a lot of seeds. Some of its benefits are:
- It strengthens brain function and memory
- It helps cure migraines and headaches
- Due to its low sugar and calorie content, tree tomato is ideal for diabetics
How to eat it
Here in Colombia, we eat this fruit as a juice. Some people cook the fruit, add sugar, and then blend it to make a juice drink.
This is how Colombians and rolos eat fruit so next time you buy them, you can eat them like a local pro!
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