Purportedly called “fruit of the angels” by explorer Christopher Columbus, the papaya offers a taste of the tropics and is readily available in most produce departments. With its buttery soft consistency, the flesh of the papaya is a rich orange color with yellow or pink hues and has a sweet, musky flavor. Also edible are the black, crunchy seeds encased in a gelatinous substance found in the center of the fruit.1
Papayas are rich sources of antioxidant nutrients, such as carotenes, vitamin C, flavonoids and the B vitamins, and they originate from Central America. Papayas were brought to Hawaii in the 20th century, and today the largest commercial producers of the fruit are the United States, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Able to be enjoyed in many different ways, papayas can be eaten alone, in fruit salads, desserts and entrees, and the seeds can even be chewed whole or blended into a creamy salad dressing to enhance their peppery flavor.1
In the kitchen
This exotic, sweet fruit has been a staple of spa chefs for years, offering a refreshing coolness to a great variety of dishes, and can be experienced at The Health Spa at The Hills Health Ranch in British Columbia, Canada, where guests are offered Baked Apples in Phyllo Pastry with Papaya Sauce; and the Scallops with Lemon Oil dish from Canyon Ranch Health Resort in Lenox, Massachusetts, and Tucson, Arizona, features a papaya relish. Chilled Papaya Soup with Cardamom is available at Tabacón Grand Thermal Spa Resort in Costa Rica. Also, at SpaTerre at theHotel Viking in Newport, Rhode Island, guests can choose the Balinese Chicken Salad, which combines chicken with mango, papaya, grape and coriander; and check out the recipe for Grilled Saffron and Spice Marinated Chicken Brochettes with Minted Couscous and Papaya and Mango Salad from Chef Hemant Dadlani of Rosewood Little Dix Bay in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands, home of Sense, A Rosewood Spa.