You know how it goes – you’re enjoying another glorious morning in Ayampe, on your way to yoga in a little while, and your lovely host asks you to help him harvest some papayas. This being the equator, they are, naturally, the size of your head, at the top of extremely tall trees, and you wonder exactly how this is to be done. Never fear, naturalist wonder Galvan of the wonderful Cabanas de la Iguana will show you how.
Step 1. Find a suitably sturdy feeling piece of tarp or sheeting, and two volunteers with a good eye for catching.
Step 2. Locate a long pole with which to poke your papayas off the tree.
Step 3. With your volunteers in place, gently prod the papaya until it comes plummeting earthwards into your waiting tarp.
Step 4. Don’t get cross with your volunteers when one of them* lacks the upper body strength to keep hold of the tarp when the surprisingly heavy papaya rockets down and is allowed to bounce off the tree trunk and onto the ground.
*not the one you’d think it would be.
Step 5. After reissuing instructions to HOLD ON TIGHT, repeat Step 3 until all ripe papayas are harvested.
(You may wish to take a break at this point as catching papayas is shoulder-wrenching work. No matter – the best bit about harvesting papayas is eating the bounty!)
Step 7. Select which papaya you’re going to eat first (NB: the one that’s already bruised from when you dropped it). Assemble the following: sharp knife, plate, honey, limes.
Attention: This is the most important step. A lot of people say they dislike papaya because of that ‘perfumey’, mouth filling fragrance type thing it has going on. If you’re not a fan of that, read on.
Step 8. With your sharp knife, slice of the very tips off the fruit at each end, and then carefully score the papaya’s skin in vertical lines around the outside of the fruit. About 8-10 lines is ok for a large papaya. Pop it on a plate and wait for a minute or two. You will see a sticky whitish-looking sap start to appear through the lines you carved. This is a protective liquid that helps to stop the fruit bruising or being damaged. Letting this out helps to sweeten the fruit and take away some of that perfumey taste.
Step 9. Once that’s done, carve the papaya as normal and remove the seeds. Chop it into bite sized pieces and douse with lime juice and a little honey.
I may be being biased and perhaps it was something about being fresh off the tree, but this was the best papaya I have ever tasted. If you’re not a lover of papaya because you think it has a funny aftertaste, give the patented Ayampe technique a try – you might be pleasantly surprised. And whack some honey on it! Everything’s better with honey…