I was walking through the produce section of my neighborhood H-E-B the other day when I first spotted them. They looked like overgrown sweet potatoes crossed with a football, but they weren’t with the tubers. They were in the exotic fruit section, next to layers of dragon fruit, guavas and fingerling bananas.
The sign indicated that they were mamey sapotes and the price was close to $4 a pound.
Pricey to be sure, but I can’t resist something new — or at least new to me. So, I Googled the fruit on my phone and found out that I wanted one that was soft without it being bruised. I took one of the smaller ones, which still rang up at about $12.
Despite the size, the mamey can be cut in half lengthwise, like an avocado. There is a long black pit at the center, also like an avocado. You don’t eat the peeling, but you do eat the soft flesh inside. But there the similarities between the two fruits end.
Mamey tastes earthier, more like an dryer papaya. That could be a polite way of saying it is boring or too subtle to be truly enjoyable by itself. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the thick texture and the almost dehydrating pucker that it brought to my mouth.
But you don’t have to eat mamey by itself. Many of the recipes I found online referred to mamey milkshakes, so I hauled out the Vitamix and filled it with a bit of fruit, milk and vanilla ice cream as well as an extra splash of vanilla. You’ll want a strong blender, because the fruit is dense and absorbs a lot of extra liquid, so you’ll need a strong motor as you add more and more milk to dilute it to get the texture you want. The result was comforting without being especially exciting — which I find strange when you consider that it had ice cream in it. What isn’t made more wonderful by the addition of ice cream?
I read up on the fruit. It grows in Mexico and Central America as well as Australia on trees that can gain up to 148 feet in height. That is, at least, if you believe the Wikipedia entry on pouteria sapote.
So, it likes tropical climes. It might like complementary tropical flavors, like coconut milk. So I started over and created a non-dairy milkshake with a can of coconut milk and a little water. I also added cinnamon this time, which brought out a really comforting, pumpkin pie like flavor. That was what the first milkshake needed, not more vanilla.
And then I got an even better idea.
Out came the spiced rum and suddenly everything fell into place. That was the real lift the mamey milkshake needed.
Or maybe it was just the lift I needed.
By the way, I thought about planting that pit, but I doubt I will. I don’t think the neighbors would appreciate a tree approximating Jack’s beanstalk shooting up out of my backyard.
So what do you do with mamey sapote?