Favorite Tropical Fruits

I love tropical fruits. One of the top reasons I'd be homesick for Hawaii while living in NYC was because I missed eating tropical fruits. Mango, lychee (litchi) and passionfruit are definitely my top three.

Luckily for me, I found a way to eat these fruits without traveling to my home state. Mexico is much closer than Hawaii and significantly less expensive. It helps that I'm new to Tulum so I'm not running into people who've known me my entire life.

Mangoes are currently in season here. In Hawaii, they are a summer fruit. Seems in the Caribbean they start a little earlier than Hawaii. My mom used to bring back mangoes she'd receive from people who lived in warmer areas of Maui (mangoes require warmer temperatures to grow and ripen). The bottom drawer of our refrigerator was always full with mangoes. There are many varieties of mangoes. Here in Tulum I've been buying the Altoufo variety. They are an even color of saffron yellow on the outside and a slightly brighter, orange tinted yellow on the inside. The flavor is succulently sweet, the texture isn't stringy at all but more creamy. To me it's perfect and I'm so happy when eating them.

Passion fruit (maracuyá in Spanish or lilikoi in Hawaiian) is a tangy fruit full of edible seeds inside of sac-like structures, similar to, but not exactly like pomegranates. The outside is either bright yellow for a dark violet. Passion fruit grow on vines and the flowers are incredibly stunning. The smell of a passionfruit when you cut it open is vibrant even intoxicating. Passion fruit is delicious fresh and a beautiful addition to gelato, sorbet, cheesecake, créme bruleé or even eclair filling like my friend Alana does here . Not only do passion fruit taste incredible, they're great for your health as well. But really any fresh fruit is beneficial to your mind, body and stomach.

Lychee (Litchi) apparently will be in season here in the summer. I wasn't sure I could get them locally as I've only had them in Hawaii and Southeast Asia and hadn't thought to research it even. I really can't wait to have all my favorite tropical fruits at the same time. The best part is that they won't come from thousands of miles away which means they'll taste that much better.

I haven't even begun to cover the surface of tropical fruits that are available around here and in Mexico as a whole. But writing about them would become more of an encyclopedia about fruit so I stuck to my absolute favorites.

Altoufo mangoes at a grocery stand

The perfect mango

Passion fruit (Maracuyá) gelato in Playa del Carmen

Yucatecan Must

I'm certain you've had your share of Mexican food. And if you haven't, I suggest you have more or try it if you've never had it.

One thing that I've always loved about Mexican food, is how satisfying it was to eat after I'd go to the beach on Maui- particularly after surfing. Something about the mix of spices, beans, rice and guacamole whether it was nachos, a burrito, chimichanga (fried burrito), or enchiladas. Add a side of agua fresca of horchata or jamaica (pronounced a "Ha" sound and not a "J" like the country) and I was beyond happy. Food bliss as I knew it before I ever worked in the food industry.

Since my teenage years my understanding and love of Mexican cuisine has evolved to include more dishes and flavors. I also find it to be satisfying no matter what time of day. Food you find abroad, like many cuisines, doesn't reflect the nuances and regional differences of a cuisine. Mexico has traditional dishes that vary with each region. A burrito or chimichanga will be found in certain regions of Mexico and not others.

In the Riviera Maya and Yucatán Peninsula there's one dish that's particularly unique to the region: Cochinita Pibil.  Cochinita Pibil is a slow roasted pork dish flavored with spices including achiote or annatto. The marinated pork is wrapped in banana leaves, roasted underground for several hours. The roasted meat comes out having immense flavor while being delicately tender. The Cochinita Pibil is served on tortillas, often garnished with chopped and slightly pickled (with citrus juices) red onion. You can then top it with various salsas as you please.

One the most recommended places for Cochinita Pibil here in Tulum is Taqueria Honorio (on Satellite Sur between Andromeda Ote and Calle Sol Ote). It was highly recommended to me by a Mexican chef who has a restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn and a local staff member of a hotel. Taqueria Honorio is a family-run restaurant that's been around You can order either a torta (sandwich) or taco with different meats. I've tried the Lechon, Negro Relleno also but I like the Cochinita best. If you have a decent appetite I suggest ordering three tacos to start. The clientele is a mix of tourists and locals and the staff speaks minimal English so if you can, order in Spanish. However, Spanish isn't your forte then I'm sure a nearby customer will help you out. The places in town that serve Cochinita Pibil open early and close in the early afternoon so either look into the hours or get there on the early side.

Cochinita Pibil tacos