Monday, September 23, 2013

Matamba: The Monkey Orange

As I learned during my first taste recently, the monkey orange, known in Shona as a matamba, is a round fruit the size of a large orange.  Edible to humans and animals, and growing in both tropical and sub-tropical Africa, the “orange” is not really an orange at all, but instead a rock-hard green fruit that ripens into yellow. Once cracked open by blunt force, the inside of the monkey orange proves to be anything but pretty. 

Its gooey, gelatinous insides look like an elephant sneezed around the seeds.  If one can get over the mucous-y texture, the fruit actually tastes mildly genteel. Each sweet and sour tear-drop shaped piece holds a large seed inside of the same shape.  

One eats around the seed, which takes quite a lot of effort to extract, and then spits it out.  

This little known fruit grows on trees known for their superior wood. The fruit trees have recently been introduced to Israel as a potential commercial crop, though my guess is that it will be a hard sell!  The fruit is not really used for many purposes other than direct eating, and -though I’m glad I tried it once- I don’t have a strong desire to scout out this rare fruit again anytime soon.  Good luck, commercial farmers!