The exotic fruit of Costa Rica

Javi the Frog on top of Mamones Chinos
Javi the Frog on top of Mamones Chinos

The tropical climate of Costa Rica creates excellent growing conditions for a wide range of crops, and travelers looking to eat healthy as they sample Costa Rican cuisine may want to try some of the country's exotic fruits.

Fresh Juice

Many of the fruits common in Costa Rica can also be found throughout the tropical world, including mango, papaya, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, blackberries, coconuts, lemons, guavas, avocados and passion fruit. Although travelers may be familiar with these fruits, they will still want to try them in a traditional Costa Rican refresco, a tasty blended concoction of fruit, water (or milk) & ice.

Another popular delicacy in Costa Rica may be familiar to international tourists, but not in the way they might expect. The seed of the marañon is called a cashew and is frequently eaten in the United States, but Ticos eat the flesh of the fruit as well. Although the marañon's skin is bitter, its succulent flesh provides diners with a sweet and juicy treat. Travelers should be sure not to eat the cashew in its raw form, however, as the seed is poisonous until it is roasted.

The pejibaye, a small fruit known for its bright reddish-orange color, is actually related to the coconut. Underneath its thick and fibrous exterior lies the fruit's flesh, which is said to taste like a blend between a chestnut and a pumpkin. Pejibayes are frequently sold at roadside stands, where vendors boil the fruit in salt water before peeling, halving, pitting and serving them.

Mamon & Tamarind

Two other related fruits - the mamon and the mamon chino - have a thin outer shell that hides sweet lychee-like flesh underneath. The mamon is small and green, while the mamon chino is known for its brilliant reddish-purple color and the strange tentacle-like structures that grow from its shell.

The tamarind (tamarindo in Spanish) is a delicious fruit that is frequently dried before being used in sauces or juice. Many Ticos drink the tamarindo's sour brown juice to refresh themselves on a hot summer day.

Several other fruits are also popular in Costa Rica, including the manzana de agua, a juicy red fruit shaped like a pear; the palm heart, a delicacy that comes from inside the trunk of a small palm tree; and the starfruit, a yellow-green food known for its star-shaped cross-section. Many Ticos also enjoy the flesh of the guanabana, a football-shaped fruit that boasts a unique combination of flavors that showcases hints of coconut, banana and pineapple.

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