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.
In the spa
Papaya provides distinct benefits to the skin, as well. It can be used to treat or eliminate dead skin cells, dandruff and other skin disorders, and even can help reduce the signs of premature aging.2
At InnSpa at the WaterColor Inn & Resort in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, clients can enjoy the Pineapple Papaya Brushstrokes Body Treatment; and The Tropical Wrap and Papaya Enzyme Facial is available at Spa on the Plaza at Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, California. At the Wedgewood Hotel & Spa in Vancouver, the Tahitian Island Tranquility treatment finishes up with a papaya pineapple lotion, giving skin a beautiful glow; and the Papaya Mango Body Polish exfoliates skin naturally at the Esperanza Resort’s Spa at Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Also, check out the treatment how-to for the Kanani Papaya Pineapple Body Polish from Kanani Pearl Spa in Portland, Oregon.
Professional skin care companies love papaya too, and include it often in products, such as in the Papaya-Pineapple De-Aging Mist from Pevonia Botanica, which hydrates and refreshes skin. Day Zyme with Green Papaya Proteolytic Enzyme from Jan Marini Skin Research helps skin appear firmer, smoother and retexurized; and Zia Natural Skincare’s Fresh Papaya Enzyme Mask gently exfoliates all skin types. The Enzyme Exfoliation Mask with Papaya Enzymes from Pamela Hill Skin Care helps dissolve dead skin cells, and Papaya-Green Tea Environment Hand Protection Lotion from Cuccio Naturalé revitalizes and moisturizes. Additionally, Elemis offers a Papaya Enzyme Peel to help smooth, brighten and clarify the complexion.
Bring the beach
Bring a taste of the exotic to your spa, especially this year when your clients may be enjoying staycations instead of vacations. Make your spa a beach away from the beach by offering the tantalizing fruit of papaya on your menu.
(All accessed March 16, 2009)