Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Granddaughters Are Passionate About Passion Fruit

Israel is known for its wide variety of delicious fruit. In the winter months, citrus is prevalent with tasty oranges, grapefruits, and clementinas providing ample amounts of vitamin C. During the summer months, the markets are full of apricots, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, watermelons, melons, and figs. Pineapples are homegrown, apples are available all year round, pomegranates play a role in Rosh Hashanah traditions, and etrogs mark the Sukkot holiday. There are bananas, cherries, dates, kiwifruit, guava, pomelos, strawberries, and avocados! And isn't the olive also a fruit?

I apologize if I may have inadvertently offended fruit growers in Israel whose specialties were not mentioned in the previous paragraph. With so many types of locally grown fruit, what do you think is the one my two granddaughters most enjoy?

Both young girls, aged 3 1/2 and 1 1/2, happily pick up their passion fruit halves and spoon out the slimy, seedy juices from within. One half is quickly consumed, and then it's on to the other half. Passion fruit is definitely an acquired taste, but my granddaughters apparently acquired their love for this fruit at birth.

Photo credit: "AlexanderKlink", Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Known in Hebrew by its Latin name, passiflora, the passion fruit is a hard, yellow-to-purple round ball that is rich in vitamins A and C, fiber, and iron. In Israel, besides being eaten by young children in its raw state, passion fruit wine is a specialty and the fruit's distinct flavor and pulp are added to soft drinks and yoghurts.

12.99 shekels ($3.67) for a package of 8 at Mega supermarket in Jerusalem.

What blessing do you say when eating a passion fruit?

Religious Jews say blessings before everything they eat. Each blessing is set according to the specific type of food. There are blessings for wine, bread, fruit, vegetables, grains, and a miscellaneous blessing for everything else. So what blessing do you say before eating a passion fruit?

According to the scientific classification of Passiflora edulis, the fruit is grown on a vine (and not on a tree), and therefore, one would conclude that the blessing would be the same as that recited before eating pineapples, peanuts, and vegetables, namely 'borei pri ha'adamah', or 'fruit of the ground'. According to the very detailed coverage of Jewish food blessings listed in the book, Halachos of Brochos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, passion fruit should be blessed as a 'fruit of a tree', as a vine is considered a tree even if it has a very small trunk. But another religious text, Binyan Shalom, argues that passion fruit should be considered a 'fruit of the ground'.

Needless to say, Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardic Jews relate to the passion fruit in different ways, with different customs. The bottom line in my house, however, is that the only blessing recited by my granddaughters to which I relate is when they cry out for "More!"

The flower of the passion fruit. Photo credit: U.S. Agricultural Research Service.

Passion fruit recipes

To conclude this article on a sweet note, let's consider what else the passion fruit is good for if you don't particularly enjoy scooping out mush. You won't get any recipes from me, but here are three Israelis who definitely have a passion for cooking.

As Tel Aviv-based Liz says on the Café Liz kosher vegetarian food blog:
"Passion fruit is downright weird - it’s ripe once the peel begins to wrinkle, at which point you slice it open to find it filled with yellow goo. Not the kind of texture you’d usually associate with fruit. That said, it’s a fabulous ingredient for cooking - full of intense, tangy flavor."
Passion Fruit Coconut Sorbet, Cafe Liz website

Passion Fruit Souffle, Beth Michelle's blog.

Flourless Pound Cake with Passion Fruit Ice Cream, Harmony Sage Fried posting on

"More, please!"

1 comment:

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