Momones: a fruit memoir

MOMONES

Some fruits are worth climbing trees to enjoy. A fruit from my childhood that is not widely known in the United States but is considered a delicacy in the tropical regions of Colombia and Venezuela are called momones. Momones grow in clusters on tall upright trees. The fruits have a tough green rind that is torn or cut open to reveal a peach colored core that has a somewhat wet, gelatinous flesh that covers a large seed. The flesh is more or less sucked off the seed which is then discarded. The edible portion is sweet but tart enough to pucker the mouth. It is difficult to liken the flavor to another fruit; perhaps it is bit like a combination of lemon and cantaloupe but with a grape-like texture. Suffice it to say that momones are one of those taste sensations residing in my childhood memories that I treasure most. Unfortunately I have been unable to revisit this taste treat because these fruits are rarely available in our markets. I don’t know why they are not exported more often, whether it’s a problem of supply, demand, difficulty of cultivation or transportation.

My first home was near the equator at sea-level in Amazonian rainforest. Prowess among my friends could be demonstrated in several ways including running, bicycle riding, spinning tops, shooting marbles and climbing trees. Therefore climbing trees to gather fruit had a double reward. Momone trees typically had a vertical slender trunk with few low hanging branches. It required a shimmying technique using both hands to grasp the tree along with both legs. When the fruits were in season, my friends and I loved to climb the trees and reach out with one hand to grasp a cluster and throw it down to a partner. Then we would sit down to enjoy the feast. The jungle was not always so paradisiacal, however, and concealed particular dangers, a lesson that I learned the hard way one day as a I reached around a momone tree trunk. As I began my climb, I put my hand directly upon a stinging caterpillar that was just beginning to wrap itself into a cocoon. Its sting was incendiary, painful, much worse than nettles, and I had fully grasped it expecting a solid tree trunk.

Instantly I howled with pain and without pausing to explain, ran home as fast as my short legs could carry me, heart racing, my wounded hand rapidly swelling and outstretched in front of me. I burst in the door at home crying. By now not only had my hand swelled to twice its normal size my arm was also puffing up like a balloon. My mother leapt into action and drove me to the company clinic. By the time we reached the clinic, my arm had doubled in size all the way to my shoulder. We hurriedly recounted to the doctor what had caused my horrifying plight which he immediately recognized. He put me in an oxygen tent to avert the possibility that my throat would swell shut as well thereby cutting off my breath, and he injected me with some sort of anti-venom. It was my good fortune that this doctor knew his business. I lived to tell the tale. I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. Somehow it reminds me of the Garden of Eden, but I am not sure why I was required to pay such a price, but then I am sure Adam and Eve must have wondered as well what the big deal was as he labored in the fields and she in childbirth.

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Comments 25 comments

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago

Great story. I never heard that one.


barranca profile image

barranca 8 years ago Author

One of those memories the old man starts kicking around asking himself what's it all about.


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

Momones, I never heard of. I hope you will some day be able to revisit this taste treat. Nice story.


barranca profile image

barranca 8 years ago Author

Glad you enjoyed it. Momones are a relative of the lychee fruit but taste much much better in my opinion.


spryte profile image

spryte 8 years ago from Arizona, USA

I also have never heard of Momones and was wondering how Mormons could be considered a fruit... :) I'm glad my curiosity led me to your hub. Great job and left me wondering as well...why aren't there any momones available here? They sound delicious. Glad to see you survived your caterpillar crisis!


barranca profile image

barranca 8 years ago Author

Mormons? Fruity? No way!


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 8 years ago from St. Louis

I, too, have never heard of Momones. By your description, it sounds like something I would find delicious! Thanks for the info.


barranca profile image

barranca 8 years ago Author

I have read a description of them as tasting like plums....but that does not fit with my memory.


Nancy Meister 8 years ago

Oh how I remember the momones and the day you got stung. I was in the back seat while Mom drove and I thought you were going to die. It's amazing that they knew what to do. It would be great to return to Barranca.


barranca profile image

barranca 8 years ago Author

Hi Sis, I had forgotten you were with us. Barranca is supposed to now be almost dead center in the ongoing FARC struggle. I've seen an alternative spelling for momones, namely, mamones.


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

Better than lychees must be something - great hub - isn't it strange how childhood tastes and smells impinge themselves in our memories?


barranca profile image

barranca 8 years ago Author

It is. My brother was reminding me of two other fruits that we enjoyed. Guavas and a large black seed pod that had black seeds covered with a sweet white fuzzy stuff (he thought they were called mamones). Fresh guavas are really great. We also had mango trees in our yard but I wasn't particularly partial to mangoes (or papaya for that matter).


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 8 years ago from India

Mangosteen, perhaps? Well, I'm not too fond of guavas though my husband loves them - and we are lucky to get them fresh off our trees! And mangoes - well not everyone likes the taste!


barranca profile image

barranca 8 years ago Author

I like fresh guavas but I don't like the guava jam found in hispanic markets in the US.


Carol 7 years ago

Momones are one of my favorite fruit memories of my childhood, too. I think the last time I got them was when I happened to be in Costa Rica in June. That's the only place/time I've seen them.


Joshua McClure 6 years ago

Wow, glad to see someone else that likes momones as much as me... Of course if you eat too many your throat gets scratchy - never understood that one. I ate a lot of momones in Nicaragua where I lived for a few years... Reading your post makes me miss them, thanks for sharing. The green ones in your picture are good and at 5 US cents a large cluster in Nicaragua are certainly cheaper, but I far prefer the taste of the spiky looking red Asian ones - also available in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Anybody else had those? And, yeah what a shame you can't buy those here. If I could just get some momones to eat and a little Ecuadorian Guitig (natural mineral water) I don't know if life could get any better here! Speaking of exotic Latin american fruits and what not, anybody tried sweat lemons?


Pete 5 years ago

I have just discovered momones here in Roatán, Honduras. Amazing little fruit. Me and the locals have picked many from the trees. So good!


Pete 5 years ago

PS, I never saw them in Colombia or Venezuela. I have some friends there right now and will make sure to tell them about them. Thanks!


barranca profile image

barranca 5 years ago Author

Pete, The trees I used to climb were in the jungle at sea level. The town where I lived was Barrancabermeja.


mabmiles profile image

mabmiles 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing.


Douglas 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing. Just saw momones at a fruit vendor on the street in New York City and was wondering what these were. A Latin guy also buying at the fruit stand shared their name with me, but I was happy to learn more here.


barranca profile image

barranca 5 years ago Author

Hi Douglas, Glad to know they are for sale in NYC. Next time I am there, I will look for them. Thanks for commenting.


david 5 years ago

i enjoyed this fantastic fruit in panama some 40 years ago....and at that time they were called ginnops or ginops. probably the most unique and best tasting fruit i ever ate!!! does this name ring a bell with anyone else???


david 5 years ago

i note that the wiktionary lists a synonym of mamoncillo (mamone) as GINNIP....fruit of the longan tree!


barranca profile image

barranca 5 years ago Author

Hi David, Thanks for adding to our knowledge. I am not familiar with the term: ginops. I have seen mamoncillo. In Colombia, where I grew up they were "momones."

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