Written by: Lisa Bredahl, Flavors Food Tour, St. Thomas VI location
On your next trip to the US Virgin Islands, make sure to notice all of the unique floral and fauna that surrounds you. There are definitely some interesting species that grow all over the island. Some are indigenous and others were brought by the enslaved Africans and European travelers in the 1700 & 1800’s.
One fruit, native to the Caribbean, looks similar to a kiwi, but it is not in the kiwi family at all. The locals call it a mesple, however the standard name is sapodilla. It is the size of a kiwi, brown and fuzzy, but it is a firmer fruit. The flesh is yellowish-orange and a little gritty, similar to a pear. If contains smooth black seeds that you do not eat. The unripe fruit is hard to the touch and contains latex, which seeps from the stem when picked. The latex substance, known as chicle, is the principle ingredient in chewing gum. Once ripe, the fruit is soft to the touch and ready to eat. Locals cut the fruit and eat the delicious flesh, which tastes like malty caramel dipped in brown sugar. This tree bears fruit twice a year, so you are apt to see a ripe mesple when driving the island.
Try some of the other island fruits at road side fruit stands. Fresh fruits include: coconut, banana, plantain, pineapple, papaya, guava, guava berry, mango, soursop, and tamarind.
Check out our Mesple Video: https://youtu.be/IJMedejVeak
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