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Missing Papayas

ImageIn my book The Gate House, the main character Nara has moved to England after growing up on a island in the Caribbean. Besides the warm weather and the ability to wear sandals everyday, Nara misses the tropical fruit. She often laments, while preparing the full English breakfast for guests at her aunt's bed and breakfast, that eggs are sausage are fine, but a colorful plate of tropical fruit is what she craves any time of day.

Having lived in the tropics myself for seven years, I can feel the longing for fresh fruits and vegetables year round. And even though bananas, pineapple,papayas, mangoes, and even more exotic offering like starfruit are available in most supermarkets, the taste is much more intense when the fruit has not traveled on a ship to reach the store.

In Costa Rica, where I lived, papayas were a staple on most tables, and one of the main ingredients in a fruit salad. There was actually a time when I grew tired of papayas, we ate them so much. And they were not the small Hawaiian papayas that are most common in the U.S. These were the grand-daddies of papayas, often more than a foot long and no light weights!

Fresh papaya is delicious, and healthy, too. But if you get your hands on one of these giants and want to try something different with it, here is a recipe for papaya bread that was given to me by a friend in Costa Rica. Apparently the the enzymes in the papaya interact with the baking powder and baking soda, so follow the directions carefully. I have made it many times and it is moist and yummy!

Papaya Bread

Cream together until light: 1 c. sugar and 1/2 c. butter

Add 2 eggs and beat until fluffy.

Add and mix: 1 c. mashed ripe papaya, 1/4 c. chopped walnuts, and 1/2 c. raisins

Sift together: 1 1/2 c. flour, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground allspice, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Pour batter into greased & floured 9x5" loaf pan.

Bake at 325 F. for about 1 hour 5 minutes.

Do you enjoy reading about food in a novel? Do you include details on food in stories you write?