As a consequence of two falls in early January I’ve been seeing a local physiotherapist for treatment. She’s Dutch. When she was 18 years old she came to New Zealand as a school exchange student and fell in love with the place. So she decided to live here. She mentioned the other day how her host parents at Wellsford had a babaco tree and she adored the flavour of its fruit. She commented very few people had heard of it and expressed surprised that I had.
Anne’s relatives in Tauranga had them growing in their orchard hothouse. A relative of the pawpaw the hybrid fruit is a native of Ecuador. It’s flavour is so divine that its nickname is the champagne fruit. The seedless flesh is very juicy and is apparently low in sugar. It's nicest slightly chilled and goes very well with cold mutton or a good grilled steak.
I’m equally surprised it’s not more well known. The fruit is quite large, 12 inches long and 8 inches wide. It is distinctively five-sided, in a torpedo shape, blunt at the stem end, pointed at the apex. I can see it would be hard to pack and distribute - it's easily damaged. I’ve rarely seen it in the shops and on the few times it’s been available it looked over-ripe. Pity. It deserves wider recognition.