Delectable and very unique to Aotearoa/New Zealand. Although not a native, and unfortunately only really grows in the North Island though it could be said it’s loved and celebrated nationwide.
True fans of this delicious fruit await the Feijoa season similar to the summer holidays or even Christmas.
And great excitement as they arrive as does the fresh air. Then, the inevitable happens as there are an abundance and more than enough feijoas.
Then comes the creative ways in which we can devour even more such as the old fashioned Feijoa crumble, the fresh feijoa smoothies, trendy feijoa ice cream, saucy feijoa chutney, smooth feijoa cider, or weird combinations of feijoas with crunchy peanut butter. Feijoas in their pure form are traditionally eaten cut in half and spooned out.
So, how does it taste?
I recall the first time I watched an overseas visitor try one, and shall we say it was a done with much trepidation on her part and prompting on mine.
“So, how was it? Do you like it? How does it taste?”
“Ummm, I really can’t put my finger on what it tastes like, could be something familiar, but then again, it doesn’t. It’s not really that sweet.”
Her reaction I must admit was not a typical one.
Memories of my first time, many moons ago when I was no higher than an adults knee. I admit I really wasn’t that thrilled by the taste. Then there are the lingering memories of ‘fermentation’ and ‘perfume’. Doesn’t sound too appetising, does it?
I asked the people around me, and they described the taste as:
“Sweet and sour”; “Tangy but sweet and perfumed!”
My opinion would be that they are slightly sour, kind of sweet, though not cloying, gritty within a soft interior and a very fresh fruit taste.
Each taster has a unique experience quite like the fruit themselves. You could say “It tastes like feijoa and not like any other fruit, it is like a feijoa”.
What we all agree on is that the overall flavour is very distinctive and fabulous.
Even despite the sharp tang and the fermented flavour, I tried a second feijoa and a third feijoa after my first encounter, all those years ago. From that day forth I like many of my fellow kiwis I excitedly await each season. For the last few years I have not had this build up, so this year I am making up for it with more than my share of scooping that luscious fruit.
If scooping isn’t your idea of fun perhaps one or two feijoa-licious caipiroskas are more your thing.
The two points I love about them is their uniqueness and seasonality. Sadly we can’t claim them as our own as they are not a native to us nor exclusive to New Zealand.
Some reasons why they may never be mainstream because they’re just not meant to be:
1. They require warm to sub-tropical conditions to grow.
2. This unique fruit arrives within a tiny window of time where the feijoa is fully ripe and eatable.
3. The ripe fruit is very prone to bruising, meaning feijoas are not exportable.
The above reasons are why feijoas will never become mainstream. The other very charming aspect that makes me fall in love even more with the feijoa is its strict seasonality. Familiarity can never breed contempt.
After hours of sunshine riping up just perfectly and making their appearance only once a year, how can we not love the feijoa? With their plopping sound as they hit the ground for us to pick them up?
Local sun-kissed fruit is always a winner for me and combined with a rare beauty makes it even better. The feijoa is a prime example highlighting the quality of locally grown, seasonal food. A whole country, a slight exaggeration, is celebrating its season and looking forward to it perhaps as much as an All Blacks match.
I have wondered on more than one occasion why we don’t celebrate and value more fruit and vegetables like we do with the feijoa? There are even festivals for goodness sakes. By doing this, we appreciate what we have and what nature has given us. By doing this may be more of us will take up a more critical stance on imported fruit and veggies.
Standing in a European or an American supermarket, is it vital to buy potatoes from say any other country than your own? Or, standing in a New Zealand store, should we go for pineapple from Ecuador when it is apricot or peach season here? There are more local or regional choices of similar fruit if we look hard enough. With the chances of being more fresh and yummy. Though perhaps not as exotic for those who want something completely different.
The crucial point, in my opinion, is that we need to be aware of our buying power. Ask ourselves do we really need to buy that overseas product? It is not an easy decision when other considerations come into it, like a budget or wanting something new.
Each step we take in buying locally has got to be a positive step in the right direction. You can imagine that the feijoa would be proud as punch to serve as a role model.