I love fruit! LOVE it! Any kind of fruit too. No sir, I do not discriminate when it comes to these little bursts of joy, these gifts from the gods. Whether tropical or temperate, whatever the clime, if its properly classified as fruit, I love it! That is, except for custard apple! The custard apple that grows in Antigua is annona senegalensis (aka African custard apple) and it is THIS type (not the sugar apple or sweetsop variety… which also grow in Antigua) to which I refer.
Custard apple. The sneaky little thing managed to hide from me my entire childhood, all through my 20s and almost got away with eluding me that 3rd decade. But its luck ran out (guess it didn’t get the memo that only cats have that kind of fortune). It wasn’t until I was getting close to knocking on 40’s door that I finally found out about, then tasted, this odd sounding fruit, custard apple.
It was a weekday afternoon. I want to say it was a Thursday but in truth it could honestly have been a Friday or Wednesday. Saturday, it definitely was not. I know because had it been a Saturday there would have been nothing holding me back from devouring it, or at least trying to. It had to be a weekday, a day when other things were fit enough to fight for and get my attention and cause me to rest the custard apple… correction, MY custard apple… in the fruit basket on the kitchen counter with a wink and promise to return. The only “something” I can think of with that much balls is that wutless, dutty place I used to call work (thankfully I don’t have that problem any more lol).
Now the reason I believe it was a Thursday is because Wednesday is too far from Saturday. Had I put the custard apple, already ripe and giving me the “sweet eye”, to rest on a Wednesday, by Saturday it would have been past its prime, no longer just-right and ready for the tasting but over done and “bang-up” looking. It was neither so I likely didn’t get it on a Wednesday. Probably didn’t get it on a Friday either because that wutless, dutty place had enough of my attention to get me to walk away from a fruit eating experience. It only had that sort of clout Monday to Thursday because by end of week I just didn’t give a flying flook who said or thought what at that place. So while I’m some-what guessing at the day, this is one of those highly educated guesses, a PhD guess even.
But I tarry.
There I was on this Thursday afternoon, my lunch hour over 15 minutes before and I just couldn’t bring myself to pick up the car key and go back to work. It might have been the heaviness of that forth, stick-to-yuh-belly dumpling Ms. Jurvey put in my lunch plate (the same one my stomach cuss’ me for eating because it [my stomach] was already bursting, but me eyes dem long and me heart can’t stand to see food left uneaten on a plate, so I forced it down). Well, whatever it was, it had me sleepy and wanting to stay on the veranda a little while longer instead of crunch numbers and explain 5-year trends.
That’s when Joseph walked by. He was in the room at the back of the house but I didn’t know he was home. We greeted as he went to his jeep and on his way back to the house he said “Aisha hol’ dis” and handed me this brownish red fruit with a reddish top. Well I was too ‘shame to ask him what it was but my curiosity was stronger. Of course I had to endure the raised eyebrows, the open mouth grin and the almost mocking “wait, Aisha yu nuh know wha dis be? You who nyam ebryting wha name fruit nuh know dis?!” (Why is it that when you ‘shame Antigua people insist on showing you there’s more shame there for you to feel, eh? smh). So Joseph, triumphantly, told me the gem in my hands was a custard apple. “Eat it man! Yu wid like it!”, he confidently assured, so I thanked him, put it in my handbag and dragged myself off veranda for the reluctant drive back to “that place” (you know, the wutless, dutty one).
It was Saturday before I settled down for some one-on-one alone time with this new (to me) fruit and I made a grand thing of it too. Cleaned the house and showered and felt pretty in a sundress, I wanted everything to be in harmony for the moment. Didn’t want the lingering taste of any other fruit, any other food in fact, to mess with this “first taste” experience so I didn’t eat a thing before the custard apple. Washed and sitting on the plate, I first cut it in two and instantly understood where the “custard” in custard apple came from. Inside was creamy, thick and really did have a custard-ish vibe to it. Using a small spoon (cause I’m cute like that… only on Saturdays though *wink*), I scooped up its contents, custard-like cream with black seeds covered in thin white flesh, put it into my mouth and savoured.
“Eh? It’s aight!”, my first impression said. It took two more tastes to convince me that I’d found the fruit, possibly the one fruit, I could actually live without. Why? Its just too sweet for my liking! For the decadent, double chocolate fudge brownie with caramel and hot chocolate syrup and any other “too sweet” topping loving person, its the PERFECT fruit and I highly recommend it. But, for me, its just too much. I prefer the understated sweet of finger-rose, the wait-for-it-and-hope-it-comes sweet of golden apple (aka june plum), the just-right-all-the-time sweet of kidney, julie, grafted…heck, ANY mango. But custard apple, you just too sweet for me, buddy!
*this is a piece from a 30 day writing challenge (think i lasted 5 of the 30 days… don’t judge me! i’m a good person! lol). the topic was: “a fruit you don’t like and why”.