Monday, September 25, 2017

Hunting for Pawpaws - The Perfect Rosh Hashanah Addition

A few weeks back I noticed folks on /r/foraging reporting success finding pawpaws, and most surprisingly, many of the posts referenced the DC area. This timing checked out, as it was back in September of 2014 when I first learned about the fruit, by discovering it along the Potomac Heritage Trail.

Pawpaws, for those not in the know, are the largest edible fruit native to the U.S. Lewis and Clark, as well as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson enjoyed the fruit. As I learned back in 2014, they grow wild along the Potomac River. While I had seen the fruit there, I'd never actually tasted one.

As Rosh Hashanah approached, I decided that pawpaws would be the perfect addition to the apples and honey we eat on the holiday. I've always been fond of the distinct significance that apples and honey have. Both may be sweet, like the year we're after, but they come about their sweetness in different ways. For apples, it's simple: they're a sweet fruit. For honey, it's more complicated, and represents the sweetness that comes from an unexpected sources. Pawpaws add another dimension to this: as they are sweetness that's in front of you your whole life, yet you've never taken the time to notice it.

While this was a novel idea, how was I going to manage to find pawpaws in such a short time? Shira had an unexpected solution: one of the apple orchards in town also offered pawpaw picking. And so for our pre-Rosh Hashanah apple picking we made our way to Mackintosh Fruit Farms, which along with a large selection of apples did offer pawpaws:

They didn't have a huge selection left, so we were lucky to both pick some and find some in their store.

Incidentally, I did get one jog along the Potomac Heritage Trail before Rosh Hashanah began, and I found many pawpaw looking trees:

However, I saw no sign of any pawpaw fruit. Shira definitely scored with the orchard approach.

On Rosh Hashanah, I enjoyed my very first pawpaw, and I have to say, it was truly delicious. It definitely matched up to the mango'y flavor folks say it has. Even with all the foods I have available they were delicious, I can't imagine how precious these fruits would have been back in the 17th century.

Shanah Tovah Tikatevu! May you have a good and sweet year, full of health and interesting discoveries!

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