Monday, January 28, 2008

For The Love Of ... Lúcuma

Photo: RPP

Photo: Javier&Ares

One dictionary may tell you lúcuma is merely, "A round, greenish fruit with tangy orangey flesh, widely used in desserts." Another one might say it is, "An American genus of sapotaceous trees bearing sweet and edible fruits."

In English, they are sometimes called lucmo, canistel, or egg fruit.

In the US, the best known variety is Pouteria campechiana grown in Florida.

In Peru, the main variety of lúcuma is Pouteria lucuma, also known as lucuma nervosa, and it grows in the subtropical valleys where the Andes descend into the Amazon basin.

But, lúcuma is so much more than definitions and statistics.

It is sweet and seductive; it plays with your taste buds and entices them; it makes you dream about it when you are far away.

Lúcuma is loved by almost all Peruvians; in fact, I've never met a Peruvian who didn't like it.

Lúcuma is like its name: tempting, beguiling, easy on the tongue.

This first series of photographs depicts the physical characteristics of the lúcuma tree and the production of this unique fruit.

Lucuma nervosa growing in Japan
Photo: kalavinka

Photo: V. van den Eynden, Biodiversity International

Lúcuma, Moche Period, 200 AD,
Museo Larco, Pueblo Libre, Lima

Photo: Wiki

Lúcuma was cultivated by pre-Conquest peoples for milenia, as seen in the Moche clay depiction above.

It is exotic; in Peru, the general consensus is there is no better flavor for ice cream than lúcuma.

Lúcuma is also used in cakes, drinks, and other desserts. In the recent past, there has been an explosion in innovative ways to employ this fruit.

Take a look for yourself:

Lúcuma and a recipe for lúcuma meringue
Photo: Magalí Torres Guizado

Lucúma ice cream in Cuzco
Photo: mmm-yoso!!!

Lúcuma drink, Cebichería La Mar, Miraflores, Lima
Photo: modernistx

Lúcuma ice cream bar
Photo: andrea*

Lúcuma parfait
Photo: Felicia_

Lúcuma and chocolate cake
Photo: Johnny Panic

Lúcuma ice cream at Lima Peruvian Restaurant & Lounge in LA
Photo: Traveling Man

Lúcuma meringue with ice cream
Photo: cristián arismendi

Lúcuma dessert
Photo: Mitch Teplitsky

Fruity lúcuma meringue
Photo: kelly.sisson

Lúcuma mousse on a chocolate cake,
Starbucks, Jockey Plaza, La Molina, Lima

Photo: Jorge Gobbi

To finish of this series on lúcuma desserts, here are some photos from Tortas Marconi, who bake made-to-order cakes in San Isidro.

They've clearly learned how to use lúcuma in their ingredients:

Lúcuma Merengado, layers of lúcuma meringue,
covered in a lúcuma cream and shredded chocolate

Photo: Tortas Marconi

Lúcuma Mousse, chocolate base, topped with shredded chocolate
Photo: Tortas Marconi

Lúcuma Soufflé Cake, stuffed lúcuma and fudge cream,
covered in lúcuma cream

Photo: Tortas Marconi

Lúcuma Cake, chocolate chiffon filled with lúcuma and fudge cream,
convered in lúcuma cream, decorated with chocolate details

Photo: Tortas Marconi

I think I better go and have some lúcuma now.

Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana


kharnok said...

Heading down to Perú this week and can't wait to have anything with lúcuma in it...again. Next to grenadilla it's probably my favorite fruit. Too bad it's late because these pictures are making me hungry!

SaltShaker said...

To me, lucuma tastes like maple sugar candy that someone's brushed with just a little strawberry juice - it's simply amazing. Wish we could get it here in BA!

::Alejandro:: said...

Thanks for your comments!

KirkK said...

Hi Alejandro - Those desserts look wonderful! We've got to keep a better eye out for them next time we're in Peru.

Sarah C. said...

I was referred to your blog by my professor. We are both archaeologists who work in the Andes and we are both foodies to some extent. That Lucuma ice cream photo made me weak in the knees.

Since you are from La I thought I might suggest this restaurant to you:
Wakatay Restaurant Merchant verified (310) 329-6033 1630 W Redondo Beach Blvd, Gardena, CA Peruvian Nikkei Cuisine Peruvian japanese cuisine,fusion cuisine,traditional Peruvian...

Have you tried it?

::Alejandro:: said...

@ Kirk: Glad to hear there will be a 'next time'...

@ sarah c: thanks for the tip, haven't been but I'll have to check it out.

y.monzón said...

My goodness... All those desserts just made me hungry... I must try lúcuma asap...

::Alejandro:: said...

@ y.monzón: yes, you must!

Canelita said...

Lúcuma ice-cream, my favorite flavor hands down! Guanábana is a very close second, too. And that lúcuma mousse cake looked just heavenly.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I've never seen or heard of this fruit before. It reminds me of sapote or chikoo. I wonder if it's possible to get that anywhere in LA?

::Alejandro:: said...

@ wandering chopsticks: it IS in the same family as the sapote. You can find lucuma ice cream and frozen lucuma in specialty stores here in LA.

luiscar said...

Buena Alejandro, felicitaciones por mostrar uno de los productos de nuestra patria El Perú, que requiere mas y mas difusión por sus características muy especiales como su amplia utilidad. mil gracias por mostrar la Lúcuma.

::Alejandro:: said...

@ Luiscar: el Perú tiene mucho que mostrar como tu lo haces en tu fotolog...saludos!

Avilio Jimenez said...

I had to copy ur pics... so i will stop my lucumaholic problem.

IS THE MOST DELICIOUS FRUIT IN THE WORLD. I love your blog... it shows what we all the peruvian food lovers wanna have it on the net. I'm from Peru but I live in New Mexico... right now I'm in Peru visiting my parents... but when I'm in NM... ur blog will replace my parents at least visually... :P

::Alejandro:: said...

@ avilio jimenez: lucumaholic ... that's a good one! Thanks for stopping by!

Javier said...

Fantástica lúcuma: algo más delicioso que un buen jugo de lúcuma fresca???
Otra de las delicias que guarda Perú.
Enhorabuena por el artículo.

::Alejandro:: said...

Javier, concuerdo contigo. Gracias por la foto, por la visita, y por tus palabras. Saludos!

Pico said...

Hola Alejandro,

Un dia tratando de duplicar una batida al estilo brasilero (usan cachaça), prepare una con pulpa de lucuma y pisco. Salio tan buena que terminamos tres botellas. No hay como el sabor de esa fruta (a proposito, mi hermana es una de esas personas a la que no le gusta la fruta. Debe ser hija de otra madre.)

::Alejandro:: said...

@ pico: mmm, eso suena muy rico y despues de tres botellas bien alegres habran quedado! Gracias por el comentario. Saludos!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I finally tried lucuma ice cream at Inka Trails in Claremont. Have you been? It's one of my favorite Peruvian restaurants but I never noticed the lucuma flavor until your post. And it does taste very much like sapote. :)

::Alejandro:: said...

@ Wandering Chopsticks: I haven't been to that one, but I'm glad to know you tried the lúcuma ice cream. It's the same family as the sapote. Thanks for letting me know about it!

Steve said...

Ever since I tasted lúcuma ice cream and lúcuma milkshake, I have been in love. The flavor is just so special! When I'm in Peru, I have to eat it (plus their delicious mangos) all that I can.

Amanda said...

Hey alejandro! Thanks for following the lucuma link back to Metrocurean. I head to your site whenever I'm researching Peruvian food.

::Alejandro:: said...

Thanks Steve and Amanda!