Friday, July 27, 2007

The Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit

Fulfilling my promise to Debi, Rima, Frances and others to post some pictures of the Prickly Pear Cactus fruit. In the Middle East this is a delicacy, normally found being sold on streets by vendors. They ripen and are commonly sold on the streets around July/August. Street vendors have them displayed on large metal trays on blocks of ice, stools are placed around the trays, and people normally sit and watch the vendors as they peal the prickly skin expertly and offer them to eat. Delicious!

As you can see, nowadays they are more hygienically packaged and sold in supermarkets! I’m not sure that I don’t prefer the old fashioned way.

The scientific name for this species of cactus is Opuntia Lasiacanta. Here’s an interesting website on the subject:

My apologies for the quality of the pictures, they were taken today with my cell phone camera.

The fruits before peeling

After peeling


Frances said...

Thanks Sarmad,
These are one of my favourite fruits. We don't get them much here in UK and I do miss them.
We were having a conversation about the paddles as well - apparently they are used in Mexican cooking, but I've never known any part of the plant but the fruit to be eaten in the Mediterranean area. Do you think the Mexican one might be a different type of Opuntia?

Frances said...

Wow, that is an interesting site and the answer to my questions. so I wonder how come they don't eat the rest of the plant in the Mediterranean. When I lived in Malta this was one of the few plants that grew happily everywhere. You would imagine they would eat it.

Rima said...

Yay, thanks Sarmad - that's it, that's what I remember from my youth. My mum was crazy about these. Those in the summer, roasted (burned) chestnuts in the winter, and kaak all year round, man, that's the life, isn't it.

If you see "Dr. Miguel" again, please tell him I said hi :-) Is he still living in Roumieh?

Bobbie said...

I love this fruit, so sweet and delicious. And I love seeing pictures of it again. The links were interesting too. The Mexican fruits and much more prickly and fruits are small, around the size of your thumb and rosy red when ripe. They are not commercially sold that I know of, you must prick, I mean pick your own. :)

Sarmad said...

To Rima, yes to all your questions. Coincidentally I will be calling Miguel today so I'll pass on your message.

To everyone else, I happened to be in the south of Lebanon yesterday on a tour with Al Amal Institute for the Disabled, and I saw some fine speciments of the pear shaped prickly cuctus fruit, some were even still with flowers, which I will post in due course.