For a period of time myself and a few coworkers would each bring in exotic fruits to work to sample and try to guess what they were. The more rare and unique the better. We called it "fancy fruit day."
Toronto is pretty amazing for things like this. There is such a huge selection of specialty grocery stores and markets that we have the ability to try a wide variety of fruits from around the world but there are still fruits that are very rare or just not found in our markets at all.
On my recent trip to Mexico City I made it a point to visit a number of the local Mercados (Markets). Every neighbourhood basically has their own central market. These aren't tiny places either. Many have hundreds or even thousands of vendors. For some scale, all of the ones I visited were at least the size of St. Lawrence Market and some were even considerably larger! At the heart of most of these markets were the produce and meat vendors. The selection of fruits at the fruit stalls was just incredible.
So I thought I'd share some of the more unique finds that I tried in the markets.
The Granadilla has a hard exterior skin that is more like a shell that you have to cut or break through. It is in the passion fruit family so the edible pulp inside is very similar. Slimy and a little mucus-like probably aren't the most appetizing descriptors but they are the most accurate way to describe the insides of the Granadilla, however the delicate sweet flavour is more than enough for me to really enjoy these and overlook a slightly off putting texture.
This one was a little over ripe by time I got to it unfortunately. The texture was soft and runny, like a tomato, which I'm assuming is not the ideal consistency. It still had a sweet, rich flavour but I definitely didn't get the prime Persimmon experience on this one. Sorry Persimmon, I did you wrong!
I'm pretty sure if I held onto this cherimoya for a while and set it in a fire I may have been able to hatch my very own baby dragon. I didn't have to patience to try so I just cracked into it and ate it instead. All of the cherimoya that I found in Mexico were very large and had this indented, scaly exterior. Very different from the smaller versions I've seen in Toronto from time to time. This one was special and unlike anything I had tasted before. It was something like a combination of coconut, banana and sweeter fruits like mango. The texture was almost custard-like, but slightly more firm. Definitely one of my favourites!
Not as exotic as some of its fruity counterparts on this list the Mandarino, or Mandarin Orange probably looks very familiar. These Mexican Mandarinos were the best I'd ever had. They were incredibly juicy and they had a much more intense flavour than any other Mandarin I've tried . I'm sure it's just a result of most of my experience with mandarins being in Toronto where they've travelled at least a thousand kilometres before reaching me, whereas these ones were probably picked locally within a few days.
These reminded me a little bit of a pear but considerably sweeter and a little more dense. There was a slight caramel flavour that became more apparent the more I ate. Another favourite!
This one was really different than anything that I have tried before. The best way to describe it would be like a sweet potato mixed with a cantaloupe. The texture and appearance of the flesh is a little juicy but also kind of grainy and the flavour is a little like baked sweet potato with some added sugar and some melon flavour as well. I wasn't initially a fan but it grew on me.
Big Seed Plum
I loved this one. I was told it was called Big Seed Plum and I also saw it referred to as Spanish Plum or Jocote. It was a tiny plum that had a perfect blend of sweetness with a little tartness. It's one of those fruits where you have to work for your bites. The skin is edible but a little thick and bitter. Most people seemed to be peeling it off so I did the same. Inside is a huge pit. Almost the entire plum is a pit with just a little flesh to eat off of it so you're not getting much to eat from each plum but it was more than worth the work for this flavour.
Mango con Chile
My bonus fruit that's not a real fruit at all. These Mango candies covered in chile powder were delicious. There were tons of variations of different nuts, gummy candies and dried fruits covered in different chile powders but these were my favourites.
I've only ever seen a few of these fruits around Toronto but now I'll definitely be on the look out for them. Here's some of my favourite markets and grocery stores for finding the slightly more rare and hard to find fruits around Toronto.
Adonis - 20 Ashtonbee Rd, Scarborough
Al-Premium - 1970 Eglinton Ave E, Scarborough or 250 Alton Towers Cir, Scarborough or 88 Dundas St E, Mississauga
Bestco Food Mart - 175 Commander Blvd, Scarborough
Phil's Place - 93 Front St E, Toronto (in the St. Lawrence Market)
Augusta Fruit Market - 65 Nassau St, Toronto
No promises you'll be able to track all of these fruits down BUT if anyone comes across a large cherimoya, like the one above, I want to be the first to know!