Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Give These 3 Types of Fruit A Try When You're in Spain

Spain is known for its world-class cuisine and mostly Mediterranean style diet but there is much more to the country than its typical ham, tortillas and patatas bravas.

Another way to experience the culture is to go to an open market, supermarket or fruit shop (fruteria) and see what kinds of exotic or new-to-you fruits and vegetables you can find. A lot of the produce and bread sold in small shops around the country do not travel too far and a lot of it comes from local sellers. I noticed a difference in the taste and quality of the fruits and vegetables after the very first bite. They are so fresh!

I've known about some of these fruits on the list for a couple years while others I just discovered a couple months ago! I hope you will put these on your list the next (or first) time you visit the country. You may return to your home country with a new found craving or hankering for one of them so stock up while you can!

1. Nísperos



(Nees-pehr-rohs). The English translation of this word is loquat or Chinese plum. It doesn't sound too appealing based on the first word, I know, but it is a fresh and sweet fruit that is a must try! I first discovered them at a friend's house in Seville about two years ago. I had been in Seville during the spring a few years earlier but since I did a home stay with a local family through my study abroad program, I didn't go shopping for produce. I never set foot into a small fruit store until last fall when I moved to Northern Spain on my own. I may have seen them in the supermarket when I would occasionally stop into one for a snack or to buy some chocolate or tea. All I know now is that I love when springtime hits in Spain because nisperos start appearing on the shelves and in window displays at the fruit stores. It's a magical time of year in my opinion! (And that means that it will rain less in Northern Spain but holding your breath is not recommended because it will still rain some more, haha.)

What do they look like?

They are small and rounded orange colored fruits that are the size of a very fat egg more or less. They usually have some dark spots on them and will have a lot more on them if they are rotten - stay away from them if they have too many dark spots and go buy them somewhere else.

What do they taste like?

Nísperos have their own unique taste so it's hard to describe it let alone compare it to another existing fruit. The best I can do is that it tastes a tiny bit like a peach mixed with a grape but it is not nearly as juicy as either one. The taste is not as overpowering as other fruits but it's light and refreshing in its own way.

What time of year can you buy them?

Typically late April - August. They are a spring and summer fruit.

How much do they cost per kilo (2.2 lbs)?

They tend to cost anywhere from as low as 1 euro per kilo to as much as 2.29 euros per kilo. Prices vary depending on if you purchase them in a supermarket or at a small fruit store. The price in the picture above is for just half a kilo (one pound) and it's a bit steep. I didn't pay that much for them and wouldn't recommend that you do either. They will drop in price if you just give it some time.

2. Paraguayos




(Pah-rah-gwuay-ohs). I first discovered this delightful little fruit in early May one night when I was shopping around for a picnic lunch. About 7 months had passed since I had arrived to my new city in Spain and I was already very familiar with the produce aisle of the various grocery stores within a one mile radius of my apartment. However, once I saw the word paraguayos I instantly thought of the country Paraguay (haha) but more importantly, I knew that I had to try these little guys. I didn't know if I would like them but I bought about four of them right off the bat thanks to the encouragement of a Gadis employee who told me that they were "muy rico." (What she didn't know that she already made the sale the minute I laid eyes on the sign and thought that the fruit looked exotic, haha.) I was hesitant at first but I bought a few and even shared them with a friend later that night! And my taste buds have never been the same since. Yum!


What do they look like?

These are the red and yellow light colored little flattened circles that you see in the middle of the above picture, next to the kiwis and the tomatoes. (Because that seems like the most logical place to put them, right? haha) They look and feel similar to peaches (think peach fuzz) but don't have the same rounded shape and dark red (or yellow) color that peaches do.

What do they taste like?

A paraguayo is basically a peach-apple fusion and it tastes wonderful. It's a very juicy and sweet fruit but the sweetness is not too overpowering. The inside is a clear yellow color but it's not as crisp as an apple is. You can eat them just like an apple, though, by washing the outside skin and then sinking your teeth into it. It also has a pit (or seed) in it so don't bite down too hard and make sure to eat around it as much as you can before you throw it away.

What time of year can you buy them?

May and on into the summer months. They are are a particularly refreshing snack for a summer picnic or beach day so I would suggest you eat them on a hot day during the summer.

How much do they cost per kilo (2.2 lbs)?

I have seen them priced as high as 1.70-1.80 euros/kilo but the price varies with location. In late June, I was seeing most paraguayos priced at 0.98 euros/kilo by the time I left Spain for the summer.



3. Albaricoques




Ahl-bah-ree-coh-quehs. English translation: apricots. I was first introduced to these delicious sweet fruits on my last Monday at the colegio I have been working at in La Coruña for the past 8 months. We had had two more fruit weeks (semana de la fruta) at the school before but having one that coincided with my last week was pretty special. Just before English class with the 3rd graders ended, the secretary came in and gave the main teacher a bag of tiny round orange fruit. They weren't mandarin oranges or peaches but apricots. In the US we usually only eat them dried but never fresh like they do in Spain and perhaps other parts of the world. Either way, I was very pleased to try them and was even more amazed at the children's reactions and how quickly they gobbled them up. These kids are getting a great education in life by being able to learn so much about the world around them!

What do they look like?

They are round and typically orange (or yellow or white) and have a smooth outer skin. I have seen them in both small and large sizes but find the small apricots to be adorable. They look like big grapes but have a similar curved shape to that of paraguayos.


What do they taste like?

Apricots are unique just like loquats so describing the taste is a bit difficult. Fresh apricots taste a little like grapes but with a peach flavor to them. They aren't exactly a citrus fruit but they have a lot of vitamin C packed into them. They also have a pit that comes out pretty easily so keep that in mind when you take a bite into your first fresh apricot. They are also very juicy and refreshing so I would also recommend eating them on a hot day. Beware that they tend to spoil very quickly especially when it's warm so plan to eat them 2-3 days after you purchase them.

What time of year can you buy them?

May to early fall (September). I arrived in Spain last fall during late September and did not remember seeing them in the stands at the fruit stores. If you want to try fresh apricots for a cheap price per kilo, summertime in Spain is the best time to get your hands on them!

How much do they cost per kilo (2.2 lbs)?


Albaricoques are the most inexpensive fruit that I've discussed on this list so don't expect to pay more than 1.25 euros per kilo. By the time I left in late June, they were even priced as low as 0.88 euros per kilo! You pretty much can't get a more fresh fruit any cheaper than that, folks.


And there you have it: my list of three quirky, must try fruits in Spain. They're only available for a limited time like most produce around different parts of the country so plan to try them if you're there during the spring or summer. You won't regret it!

What other types of fruit have you tried in Spain or another European country? Are there any must-haves you'd like to share? Add your thoughts to the comments below!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tips! I'm looking at different ways to stay healthy in Spain and this is a really great post!!

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Natalia! It is easier to stay healthy and eat healthy in Spain than most people think. Glad you liked my tips! :)

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