How to Eat Genips at the Formal Dinner Table

Genip [Melicoccus bijugatus]  (also called Kenep, Quenepa, Mamoncilla, Spanish Limes)

The genip grows  on a large tree that has a silvery-gray bark, somewhat like that of the European beech. Genips grow in clusters like grapes, though the fruit itself resembles a small lime—hence the name “Spanish lime.” Same-day international deliveries have helped the emergence of this fruit from its natural habitat onto the world scene since the smooth skin of the fresh fruit begins taking on a sandpapery texture within a day or two after being picked. And though the enclosed fruit retains its flavor and texture for about a week after being harvested, the genip’s overall appearance is at its absolute best on the day it is picked.

Eating a genip is almost an art form. Most hostesses will serve the fresh fruits on a plate as picked from the tree:  in grape-like clusters with some foliage. One by one, the fruit is plucked from its cluster and conveyed to the mouth, where the incisors are used to pierce the shell-like skin—which is similar to that of an avocado, but slightly more brittle—such that the incision by the teeth at the “equator” of the fruit causes the rind to partially split open, thereby revealing the succulent, peach-colored fruit. The consistency of a genip is perhaps best likened to a lychee, though the texture of the genip is smoother and glossier. Once the “shell” has been incised, the fruit is squeezed into the mouth and eaten by using the tongue and teeth to remove the pulp from its seed, which is almost the same size as the fruit. (The riper the fruit, the easier its pulp will yield). When the seed has been eaten clean, it is skillfully released from the mouth back into the breached shell-skin, where the eaten-clean seed is discretely—and elegantly—concealed before being placed to the side of the plate.

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