I first tried maracuya in Argentina. It was imported to Buenos Aires, a city too far south for any tropical fruits to grow nearby. Although I’d probably had passion fruit mixed into some fancy dessert in the States, like infused into cupcake frosting or some artsy shit, I hadn’t actually seen the fruit in its wholeness– let alone known what to look for in the grocery store.
It wasn’t until I was in Medellin and came across a shop that sells discounted not-too-old, only-slightly-wrinkly produce that I began to buy them regularly. After all, what’s on the outside doesn’t matter here. Like curuba, the edible part of maracuya clings to the inside. Slice it open, latitude or longitude, and pull the sticky seeds apart from the pulpy, anemone-like inner skin. Eat them with a spoon (or your hands if you’re feeling particularly ravenous), or blend them up with water or milk, and sift out the seedy bits. It’s packed with antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C.
A glass of maracuya en agua would kick me in the face in the morning (along with a bowl-sized mug of cafe instantáneo) so that I could face Medellin’s hora pica without crying. Rush hour hits a painful 5:30 a.m. in the city, and the Metro feels more like an overstuffed jar of pickles than the clean, advanced transport system that locals and tourists rave about. I started wearing sneakers to the private classes I offered in office buildings before the work day started. First out of protection for stepped-on feet in the train, and then out of laziness. Fashion took a backseat to the amount of walking (i.e., running) I did in-between classes.
My paisa roommates laughed at how much I love this fruit. All the extranjeros do, they said. They’d lived with and rented to plenty of gringos (and Europeans who grew defensive when called gringos), and every single one of them grew obsessed with maracuya. “Muy acido,” said my roommates when I poured a tall glass and offered them what was left in the pitcher. With so many sweet, indulgent tropical fruits available across the country, most locals scrunch up their faces at the thought of maracuya. It’s almost as acidic as curuba, and not something they like to eat every day. But for a girl who grew up with apples and green grapes in her lunchbox, this level of sweet-and-sour wasn’t in my mouth’s vocabulary. It’s kind of worth getting excited about.