Posts Tagged ‘swamps’

Paw-Paws

June 8, 2009

Paul Feldman and I were hiking towards a Nature Conservancy property called Twin Swamps in southwest Indiana when we caught the whiff of a sweet aroma in the humid air. It drifted so gently in and out of our perception that it seemed more like a memory than an actuality. Neither of us mentioned it until we reached the edge of the cypress swamp and the fragrance was all around us. I blurted out “What is that smell?” Among dead leaves and rotting logs were dozens of green pods.
They were soft when squeezed and smelled like a cross between cotton candy and bubblegum. I cut one open and saw large dark seeds surrounded by a white, custard-like flesh. Neither of us had ever seen the fruit before. I carved out a spoonful and ate it. It was delicious and like no fruit I had ever eaten. We spent the next 20 minutes searching the soggy shore brushing off and eating the sweet pods.
Over the course of my career I have been to a lot of exotic places but it never ceases to amaze me how much there is to discover near at hand. The fruit is from the paw-paw tree, indigenous to the south central Eastern US. With the current interest in local produce consumption, I’m surprised nobody has cultivated this incredible fruit. pawpawfruit