Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mystery Cuke in Chacala

This morning I was walking along the one paved road in Chacala, with my landlady. We were on the way to her restaurant, via the “short-cut”. It takes longer to walk, but avoids all kinds of social interactions. Which was fine with me this morning.I had a really annoying morning and was probably better off just walking along with Dona Lupe, carrying some of her stuff.Anyway. As we were walking down the road I saw a really colorful piece of something half-buried under some vegetation.Dona Lupe told me it was “albayee” or something like that. She said it was very sweet, “dulce” and she used to eat it a lot.We collected some pieces for me to photograph, and she went on the restaurant, and I headed home.Socorro was gardening at her house. When she saw me walking by with my hands full of the plant pieces, she said the same name as Dona Lupe had said. And said the berries were sweet.Then Clemen and I met on the road in front on my place. She didn’t know the name of the plant, but she knew that it was sweet. I think she meant the red berries were sweet.She said that when she was a kid (10 years ago) the plant grew everywhere from next to the beach to up beyond where the paved road runs now. She said they ate wild things all day long, and snacked on this plant all the time.I am curious about the growing season for these plants. They are so bright I am surprised I never noticed them before. They look just like cucumbers when they are young. And the vine is similar. Very similar.

I am writing this at a little computer place that's only open on the weekends. Dona Lupe's restaurant is next door. She just saw me over here computing, and came over. She wrote the correct name of this plant on a piece of paper for me. She borrowed my glasses to do it.

The plant/fruit is "Alvellana". Some local woman are reading over my shoulder, and they agree with the name, but not the spelling. But I'll just go with Dona Lupe's version.


Anonymous said...

Might be a relative of the passion fruit. The leaf and vine are similar. Passion fruit makes a smooth, oblong fruit that is good to eat.

Nicole said...

This is bitter melon, Momordica
charantia. An Asian vegetable (eaten when green,and quite bitter, but a acquired tatse) its fruit and leaves are being researched in India as cures for diabetes and certian cancers. Its a small wild type here. ee similar pic at