You do not have to dig deep to determine that it is simple pleasures that are remembered. One of our guests reminded us the other day of a one of these simple pleasures, the pitaya fruit.
Pitaya (pronounced peet-a-high-ya) is a locally grown fruit that can be purchased in local Tulum markets during the summer months. You may know it as the Dragon Fruit, the English name of this exotic tropical fruit, thought to be indigenous to Asia, but is actually a native fruit to Central America. Asian countries mass produce the Dragon Fruit and export it globally which is what has given it the Asian connection.
We get to watch the pitaya fruit being grown locally from flower to fruit in Tulum and enjoy it fresh from the local ranches.This guest remembers when we shared a slice with them on the beach, in front of our Tulum beach villa, as they sipped their coffee and watched the pelicans. This is their memory of their Tulum vacation, an experience that has turned into a vacation story and one of those ‘not to be forgotten memories’ that they share with others.
The Pitaya Experience
Think Kiwi meets watermelon when imagining the flavor of the Pitaya fruit. The skin is bright pink and has a horn-like cactus exterior, without any cactus needles. Cut it in half and you see the pink skin, the white fruit meat and a host of tiny black seeds. Cut it into quarters and you can easily share it with friend. Cut it in half, and you can eat it with a spoon.
The flavor is delicate, the fruit is watery, the seeds not noticed and the experience….decadent. When served cold, it is the perfect breakfast in the heat in the summer. If you pick it fresh off the cactus vine, an experience we have only had a few times, the fruit is beyond words.
Buying Pitaya in Tulum during the summer and early fall
So if you are not lucky enough to have a pitaya delivered to your front porch, while lounging in your beach front hammock, there are a few ways you can experience the Pitaya fruit in Tulum during the summer and early fall. First, buy it at a local fruit stand. When the fruit is in season, it is found in all the local fruit shops. Cut it open on the spot if you like and eat it while shopping in town.
Local vendors will make a Pitaya aqua fresca, a fresh pressed juice that is stored with ice.This process waters down the juice, chills it and makes it delicious! Or enjoy a Pitaya popsicle. Try both of these homemade treats at Flor de Michoacan close to the bus station on the main road in Tulum or if you venture onto a side street, there is another Flor de Michoacan on the corner of Alpha Sur and Sol Oriental behind the Municipal offices.
If you are lucky, you may find the Pitaya ice cream, a creamier version of the popsicle and agua fresca. The local ice cream man who travels around with his small ice cream cart may have it. If not we are adding a recipe for Pitaya ice cream so that you travel back to your memories of Tulum on demand or share your pitaya experience with friends back home.
Part of your travel and vacation experience is building stories, and the local fruit, Pitaya built a great story for one of our guests. She continues to share her Pitaya experience as she remembers her Tulum beach vacation at Casa de las Olas. A simple gesture, sharing of food, built a profound and embedded travel memory.
Have a food travel memory? Was there a Mayan food that you tasted while vacationing in Tulum that brings you back to the beach, the waves, the amazing blue waters of the Caribbean that you continue to share with friends? Let us know as we would love to hear your food travel story!
Dragon Fruit – Pitaya Ice Cream recipe
This recipe calls for an ice cream maker but if you are diligent at stirring your ice cream while it is in the freezer, you can actually complete this recipe without one. Enjoy!
Pitaya Ice Cream
1 cup of organic sugar
1 cup of organic whole milk
1 1/2 cups of organic cream (18% or higher)
2 cups of mashed Pitaya fruit
1. Cut open the pitaya fruit lengthwise and scoop out the fresh fruit. Mash the fruit with a fork so it is smooth.
2. In a saucepan, mix milk, cream, and sugar, put on a medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. DO NOT BOIL.
3. Remove the saucepan, add the pitaya fruit and combine. If you are using an ice cream machine, flow the freezer directions for your machine. If you do not have an ice cream machine, pour the mixture into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan, and put the mixture into the freezer. Mix the ice cream every 2 hours with a fork until the ice cream is frozen.
4. Serve and enjoy! Cut the ice cream into squares or serve in the pitaya skins.
This recipe can be made in advance and when the ice is frozen it can be stored in an air tight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.Have a Tulum food story that brings you back to the beach in Tulum every time you think of or taste a certain food? Share your experience with us!
Photos from the New York Times, whiteonricecouple, sugarlaws