What better way to end a series on Hawaiian food than with fruit?
In Hawaii, fruit abounds. You'd have to work not to eat it.
Fruit nearly bursts from the corner market bins that barely contain it. It sprouts out of cracks in the sidewalk. It hypnotizes you, forcing your hand, until you come to holding a limp, empty papaya skin with seeds scattered around your bare feet like buckshot.
"What have I done?" you wonder. It was your third papaya that morning.
Our friends Jon and Layla aren't gardeners or even particularly fruit-crazed, but the apartment they rent just happens to have growing in its modest yard figs, pomelos, and avocados. I happen to have growing in my yard poison ivy.
Their next door neighbors have bananas, and nearly every other house on the street -- and everywhere else in Honolulu -- has at least one enormous papaya tree standing sentinel, its bombs of fructose ready to drop. Coconuts, pineapple and guava are similarly omnipresent.
In Hawaii, fruit just happens. While hanging out in a city park we realized that we were standing under a tamarind tree, and we picked them out of the grass and feasted (wincing). Rogue mango trees grow on vacant lots just daring you to make a dent in their incomparable bounty.
Appropriately, while in Hawaii I was reading Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World by Dan Koeppel. In it he declares the Cavendish, essentially the only banana available to most of us, to also be the worst banana in terms of flavor. He describes other, more desirable bananas that have the texture of apples, and bananas described by the adjective "juicy."
Luckily I could go get bananas anywhere I wanted. And nearly every banana I saw was an apple banana, which are a little shorter, a little fatter, a little more tangy, and a lot better.
And so I stumbled around Hawaii high on fruit most of the time. I thought about government recommendations for fruit servings and laughed. It seemed all I needed to do was open my mouth, and fruit would fall into it, or maybe be placed there by a mongoose.