The Weirdest Fruit, Part III

El Camaguey Market

Hi, I'm Yoli, Community Moderator for KCET.org. I like food and want to learn about locally grown food, fresh ingredients, and interesting cuisines that can be found in Los Angeles. Come with me on this journey, and let's dig in together! Read Part I and Part II of the Weirdest Fruit Series.

In my last post I wrote that a simple internet search for soursop in Los Angeles led me to El Camaguey Market.

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El Camaguey Market
Located on Venice Boulevard in the L.A. neighborhood of Palms, El Camaguey is a small market that carries a lot of Latin American foods. Upon walking in I immediately asked a worker where I could find fresh soursop. Excited, I waited for his response. Finding this fruit was such a cinch, I thought, a simple Google search was all it took.

He looked at me with a smirk on his face. "Guanaba fresca? No, aqui no vendemos eso," he said. Translated: "Fresh soursop? No, we don't sell that here."

I looked at him incredulous. What, no fresh soursop?? How could it be? Had Google been wrong? Had the internet let me down?

I was reeling when the worker said that they only sold frozen soursop pulp. It was better than not finding the fruit at all, but I was on a quest to find fresh soursop. I told him about my search and he informed me that many people confuse a fruit called chirimoya for soursop. I realized that people online had bought chirimoya thinking it was soursop.

Oh, chirimoya. It was the first time I'd heard of this fruit and it wouldn't be the last.

Chirimoya is a fruit that looks deceptively like soursop. It can be confused to be a smooth, heart-shaped soursop, but it is NOT. Both fruits belong to the the same genus, but chirimoya can only be found in South America. For more info about this fruit, check out the very informative Purdue University Horticulture Site.

This is a chirimoya (Image by Flickr user Luna sin estrellas, used under a Creative Commons License.)
This is soursop (Image by Flickr user jen_maiser, used under a Creative Commons License.

I left El Camaguey dejected. What's my next step, I asked myself. Do I come back and tell you that you can never taste soursop after all this hype? No, I couldn't do that. I couldn't give up. I had to continue my journey in the search for soursop!

A couple of days later I left my house at 5 a.m. and headed over to the mecca of fresh fruit in Los Angeles--The Wholesale Produce Market.

Wholesale Produce Market

Located on Central Ave between 7th and 9th near Downtown L.A., the Wholesale Produce Market is where fruits and vegetables are distributed to different stores and city restaurants. From the hours between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m., the Produce Market is one of the busiest spots in the city.

Although most of the produce that moves here already belongs to commercial establishments, regular people can also go in and buy at wholesale prices. The only catch is that you can only buy produce by the crate and you cannot barter.

If I was going to find soursop in Los Angeles, this would be the place. It was WAY too early in the morning, but it was all going to be worth it--save for that whole lack-of-coffee opening the car door on my face part--because I was finally going to get my hands on soursop!

Once I started asking around for my elusive fruit I realized I had been led astray once again. No one was selling soursop, they were all selling chirimoya. One vendor even tried to trick me into buying a crate of chirimoya (I shake my fist at you chirimoya!). I left the market disappointed.

I will admit that after all of this, I did not regret my trip to the Wholesale Produce Market. As an L.A. native, it was another interesting facet of my city to explore. It was great to discover that place that a lot of the city's restaurants get their ingredients fresh every morning.

Although I didn't find fresh soursop, I did know where to find the frozen pulp. I went back to El Camaguey and happily bought two pack of frozen soursop pulp.

Frozen Soursop

In my next post I'l make something with my pulp--not sure what yet--and share it with you. I will also try to find places around the city where you can buy the frozen pulp so you can make it at home too!

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