spring has sprung on the isle, the flowers are in bloom, and the fruit is ripe on the trees--even on those that were previously thought to be barren. my parents have had this surinam cherry tree in their yard for years, i suppose a nod to their days in new jersey (in the heart of soprano-land, whee), and the giant cherry tree we had out back. however, i don't think this one ever fruited until now.
the surinam cherry--eugenia flora L. to her friends--was one of those many plants brought over to the islands by the portuguese explorers, most likely from goa, maybe by way of south america, as it is sometimes known as brazilian cherry. i believe the chamoru/local name for this is pitanga (although it's usually just called "cherry" pffft), but i can't seem to find the tagalog/filipino name for it, as it does not seem to be common in the philippines. certainly, it's not so common here that everyone knows what it is, but if someone had one in their backyard they remember the fruit, which is bright orangey red when young and a deep sanguine red when ripe, thin-skinned, and juicy, with a core of tiny resinous yellowish-white seeds in the middle when immature, which rather miraculously becomes a recognizable pit upon ripening. a very attractive fruit; surely if this was in the garden of eden, we might be in less trouble today. the flesh is similar to that of the more commonly known cherry, but the flavour is not; frankly, even after eating more than a handful of these, i'm not sure exactly what the flavour is. it it vaguely reminiscent of cherry, but only because its skin is a bit tart but the rest is mellow sweet. it almost tastes like a bell pepper to me, but with a different finish--not so much bitter and spicy, but tart and slightly tomatoey. the fruit is best left to ripen on the tree, when a mere touch will bring them down. supposedly a sprinkle of sugar will intensify the flavour, and make a good substitute for strawberries. my friend bill makes these into a brilliant jam, i'm told. i'll have to ask him for the recipe, once this tree comes to full fruition.