I bought a papaya at the grocery store a few days ago. It looked fairly ripe and I vaguely recalled my now-unfindable copy of ‘Super Baby Food’ saying raw papaya was a good food option for a seven month old infant. Or was it eight month old? Ugh.
The funny thing is, I don’t even like papaya. In fact it may be my least favorite of all the fruits I’ve ever tried. Growing up, whenever we visited my grandparents, a plate of papaya slices would show up for at least one meal. Usually breakfast. Sometimes lunch too. And I’d look at the gourd-like interior filled with glossy black beady-seeds and will myself to try it. Again.
It’s such a pretty fruit.
But it tastes soapy or earthy or both. And lacks in sweetness. And is most palatable when served in a fruit salad with other, tasty, fruit or pureed in a juice with other, tasty, fruit.
So why, after thirty years of not liking it, I buy a papaya roughly once a year is beyond me. I cut into the green and yellow mottled exterior. At least I’d chosen a good one. ‘Who wants fruit,’ I called to the blondies. ‘Is it mango?’ my oldest asked excitedly when he saw the orange fruit. ‘No, it’s papaya,’ I replied in my best chirpy voice, trying to sound excited about something rather un-exciting.
‘No, I don’t like that,’ the Gort refused.
Which was all the information the Hen needed. ‘No, I don like dat!’ If his brother wasn’t interested, he wasn’t either.
I pureed some of it and fed it to the baby. He accepted a bite without complaint. ‘See, the baby likes it,’ I chided the blondies. ‘You need to try one piece – you can’t just say you don’t like it.’ Even though I was pretty sure the Gort had already tried papaya. And had already decided it wasn’t for him.
He grabbed the smallest piece he could find and placed it in his mouth, contorting his face unnecessarily as it made its way down his throat. ‘Nope, I don’t like it.’
I spooned another bite into the baby’s mouth – the fourth or fifth. And suddenly he made a face he’d never made before. A ‘what IS that in my mouth’ kind of face. He started making choking-puking sounds. Like a cat preparing to deliver a large hairball. He shut his eyes, pursed his lips and moved his head from side to side, trying to delete the memory of the horror that had just transpired.
I guess nobody likes papaya.