When I was standing in the street trying to photograph the hawk on Second Street, a neighbor offered me her last pawpaw. Although I always hesitate to take the last of anything, she insisted with such enthusiasm that I couldn’t say no. I’d never had a pawpaw, and I soon discovered that Jim hadn’t either.
I learned from my neighbor Ann and from the internet that pawpaws are a fruit native tree to the midwest and in fact one of the few that are native. The pawpaw tree is an understory tree, growing about 15-20 feet tall. Interestingly enough, all the fruit ripens around the same time, and the fruit drops to the ground when ripe. My neighbor had one very ripe pawpaw left in her refrigerator for us.
Later, we stood in the kitchen and briefly debated the best way to eat it. Should we peel it like a mango? Or slice it in half?
As you can see from the picture above, we opted for cutting the fruit in half. We hadn’t googled it beforehand, so the large black fava bean-like seeds were a surprise to us. So was the flavor. I had heard that pawpaws were very good, but I wasn’t expecting something so delicious. The texture was creamier than a mango, not quite like a banana, a little more like a ripe pear perhaps. The taste was sweet and very fruity, but original; it was reminiscent of banana, mango, a little pineapple, sort of tropical, which is exciting to find in a midwest plant!
Also exciting is the fact that our neighbors have offered to give us a pawpaw seedling for us to plant in our backyard next summer. Pawpaws send out runners that need to be managed, so they will give one to us. In a few years’ time, we could be enjoying pawpaws of our own.