Peach Palm Goodness

One thing that I love about traveling to exotic (and not so exotic) places all over the world, is the discovery of new and exciting, not to mention delicious, foods. I consider myself a pretty strict vegan when I’m home and can cook for myself, but when I’m on the road, I like to keep my options a bit more open for the sake of not stressing about what my next meal will be, but also so I can enjoy the local culture and traditions in the form of authentic cuisine. Some of my favorite food-related memories of my travels have been:

– Fresh coconuts in Thailand (obviously)
– Finding a little vegetarian cafe in the midst of numerous meat-heavy cafes in Gdansk, Poland
– Eating the best tom-kha (green papaya) salad at a vegetarian restaurant in Bangkok
– Having the most delicious coconut ice cream (not vegan) I’ve ever tasted from a small family-owned ice cream shop called La Fuente in La Paz, Baja
– Guiltily enjoying a marzipan delicacy and hot latte at the world-famous Niederegger Cafe in Lubeck, Germany
– Watching the women at my rural home-stay in Kenya make fresh chapatis over an open fire. They were the best chapatis I’ve every had

– Eating a bowl of noodles with my fellow classmates at a small noodle shop in China after spending the day walking around a shopping. By the time   we sat down, we were starving and the noodles tasted absolutely fantastic

– Browsing the open markets of Luang Prabang in Laos and uneasily eyeing things like fried bats, baskets full of freshly caught fish, entire honey combs straight from the tree, various assortments of dried sea-life, and more…

The list could go on and on, but the main point I’m trying to make is that a big part of traveling is enjoying the local cuisine and trying new foods that you never seen or heard about. I can’t say that I would go as far as eating meat, but I wouldn’t be (and haven’t been) above tasting meals and dishes prepared with dairy and eggs, despite the fact that I much prefer to eat a vegan diet. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans.

So when I saw a new item on the salad bar a few weeks ago, I was eager to try it. What I saw was a bright orange, walnut-sized vegetable. Or fruit. I couldn’t tell. After confirming with the head steward that I could eat it (it’s vegan), I asked what it was. In English, the fruit is called peach palm and in Spanish it’s known as pejibaye. It kind of looks like half of a pitted apricot, but much brighter orange. Tasting it, the texture reminded me of a very dense egg yolk (or what I remember the texture of an egg yolk to be) and the flavor reminded me of… I’m not sure. Slightly sweet and mild, kind of nutty, and really good! The peach palm fruit grows in clusters on (surprise, surprise), a palm tree, which is also well known for producing heart of palm, another delicious local delicacy. To harvest the fruit, they cut down the ripe clusters from the palm and then boil the fruit in salty water for 1-3 hours. Then they remove the peel and either eat them like that, or process them in cans or jars.

Wanting to know more, I did a little bit of internet research to see if I could find any nutritional value on peach palms. I did, and here’s what I found. Per 100 grams, palm fruit has 164 calories, 2.5 grams of protein, is high in vitamin A as well as vitamin C, and contains a whole lot of fiber. Like most fruits vegetables (if not all), it’s very good for you and tasty! I only hope I can find it when I get back to the states…


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