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It's Foodie Friday! Did you say guinep?!?!?

Friday, April 02, 2010
I never really know where my inspiration is going to come from for writing blog posts.  But because life happens, I do know that the ideas will come.  Needless to say, I had a fun(ny) text exchange with a parent of a CampCaribe Adventurer a few days ago, and her sense of humor is what inspired me to write about guineps, a tropical fruit (pictured right).  But before I tell those of you that don't know about guineps what they are, here's the exchange:

  • Parent:  Really stupid question.  [My daughter] has a moderate sized suitcase with wheels and handles.  Does she really need the duffel bag? If yes, I'll get her one.

  • Me:  If you want her to bring a suitcase and you're prepared for it to be beaten up and knocked around at a campground, it's okay to bring the suitcase.

  • Parent:  Beat up just by virtue of getting to the campground and not because it will be used as a bowling pin, right?

  • Me:  Laughing.  The paperwork indicates that U shouldn't send anything to camp that is new or important to you.  The luggage may be fine, but it IS a camp environment.

  • Parent:  Cool.  Glad you are laughing.  So don't be frustrated with my daughter's crazy sense of humor.  You know apple trees don't bear kenips...
She's a crack up.
So let me tell you a little bit about kenips or kinnips (in the Virgin Islands) which are also known as (get ready):  mamón (although use of the word is considered to be in bad taste in some Spanish-speaking countries because it means large breast), and ackee (in St. Lucia, Barbados). (Note:  It is NOT the same as ackee, a fruit imported to Jamaica from West Africa (probably on a slave ship) before 1778.)  In Trinidad and Tobago, chenet; in Jamaica and St. Kitts, guaya, gnep, ginep, skinnip; in Dominica, Guyana, Haiti, Belize and the Bahamas, genip, guinep, ginnip, kenèp; in some parts of Central America, talpa jocote, canepa, quenepa; in Puerto Rico, genepa, xenepa; and in the Dominican Republic, Spanish lime and limoncillo.  (I'm sure there are variations with these names.)  Technically, the tree that bears this fruit is called the mamoncillo (Melicoccus bijugatus) and it is in the soapberry family Sapindaceae, either native or naturalised over a wide area of the American tropics including Central America, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Suriname and the Caribbean.  Even though you can eat the fruit from the mamoncillo, the trees are used ornamentally as well.  You eat guineps by putting one into your mouth, piercing the skin of the fruit with your teeth, and then squeezing the skin to pop inside into your mouth.  Then you hold the guinep in your mouth and suck the fruit pulp until there's just the pit like part which - of course - you spit out.  The fruit can be either sour or sweet depending upon where it's from and there's a huge seed inside that can be roasted like chestnuts. I've only had the sweet ones.
If you aren't hanging out in Central or South America, Mexico or the Caribbean, you're likely to find guineps with some of the fruit and veggie street vendors and/or Jamaican & Latino grocers in many places including California, DC, New York and Florida, which makes sense considering the demographics.  When I was looking for recipes, I found that the pulp is juiced with limes and/or ginger to make a refreshing drink in Jamaica and that some countries even can the pulp.
I could go on and on, but I like to keep my blog posts relatively short (ha!).  Besides, I'm leaving for the US Virgin Islands in about 10 hours.  Gotta get myself a buncha kenips...


Unknown on: May 6, 2010 at 11:37 AM said...

Every time I go to Puerto Rico I buy a bag which you can usually find a vendor on the side. They are delightful. Sweet and they melt in your mouth. I can't wait to go P.R. in July and buys some.

Joslyn on: September 15, 2010 at 3:53 PM said...

So I just found this post. I'm sorry to say that I don't read all of your posts. I just don't have time with school and work and the organizations I'm a part of, but anyways, I saw the picture of the quenepa and was in shock. I love quenepas. I'm Puerto Rican so my family tries to get them when they're in season but they're so expensive at home. I'm from South Florida. And someone actually made fun of the way I said their name probably because there are so many ways to say the name and the person was Mexican too. I knew I was saying it right for my nationality. Thank you for reminding me how fantastic being from the Caribbean is!!

Pam Bankston on: June 22, 2011 at 11:19 AM said...

OMG!!!! I have been trying to find ANY information on "guineps" (just learned how to spell it!)....ever since I lived a short time on the Panama Canal Zone. My mother and I would stop at the most wonderful Japanese farm stands on our way home at the end of a day. One of the things I was introduced to was GUINEPS!!!! Never heard of them before....but LOVED them once introduced to them. Could eat them by the boat loads! That was 41 years ago! I have been looking for them ever since returning to the US. I am so grateful for your website!!!! A forty year old mystery solved! Thanks again!
Pam, in Wisconsin, US

Andrea on: June 23, 2011 at 4:37 PM said...

I remember this fruit from my youth. In St. Thomas we had this fruit tree in my front yard and I remember being 5 years old climbing the tree to eat tons of the fruit. Sure miss it.

Anonymous on: June 3, 2012 at 2:00 PM said...

Bahamian checking in here to hail the fruit of my childhood and backyard. Precious memories !

Michelle on: June 27, 2012 at 4:21 AM said...

FANTASTIC description of this fruit. I wish the season for them wasn't so short (June/July) though.

Anonymous on: January 25, 2014 at 7:57 PM said...

Love them

Unknown on: August 27, 2014 at 7:22 PM said...

I live in DR. Dominican Republic, American. Hooked on this fruit. We live on a fruit farm (mango, orange, cherry, lime) Quenepas are my favorite...Got some today and just couldn't put them down till all gone. lol


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