So I just discovered my new favorite fruit. Here in Ecuador it’s called pitahaya (pee TA ha YA), widely known by forms of its English language Asian vernacular, dragon fruit.
Oval and scaly-spiky, it’s a yellow fruit from a cactus that’s filled with the most luscious goodness imaginable. Its white fleshy inside, teeming with tiny edible black seeds swimming in its juicy core, is perfectly sweet. Or, has a sweetness that’s perfect. Take your pick because both are spot on accurate. When it’s cut into for the first time, its fragrant aromas wake up the entire room. I’m reminded of York Peppermint Pattie commercials from the 1970s.
Believed to originate in Mexico, it was first replanted in Central and South America before Europeans brought it to other parts of the world. As per Wiki, it’s commonly grown in South, East and Southeast Asian countries and has more recently spread to Israel, southern China, northern Australia and Cyprus.
While there is also a common red-skinned variety, the one pictured here is Pitaya amarilla or yellow pitaya (Hylocereus megalanthus), its yellow-skinned cousin. Both are a font of nutrition with some even calling it a superfood.
- extremely low in cholesterol
- a source of monounsaturated fats
- high in fiber, and
- rich in antioxidants
It also suppresses arthritis, can help you avoid acne, treat colored hair and sooth sunburned skin.
OK, great, but does it contain aphrodisiac qualities?
As was the case with a similar inquiry last month about achotillo, or rambutan, I have no idea. Again I found several articles and blog posts that include something along the lines of “dragon fruit is said to have aphrodisiac qualities blah blah” but none offer a shred of evidence to support the claim. Yet another reason to hate the internets.
At a dollar apiece, it’s not cheap in a country where small bags of fruit can be gotten for the same price, and a healthy nicely-portioned lunch for just about twice that. The price tag is predictably outrageous in the US and much of Europe, where just one, about the size of an avocado, will set you back five dollars/euros or more. So I’ll plan to continue gettin’ while the gettin’s good.
I’ve read about dragon fruit wine and need to find some. Has anyone ever had a pitahaya martini?
And for the record, today’s Pic du Jour, the blog’s 461st straight, was snapped at the Mercado Central in Quito, Ecuador, on 14 April 2015.