I can’t resist new life forms, particularly when they inhabit fruit and vegetable stands. The other day I wandered into the one in the Stanford shopping center, and spotted a soft, heavy football with a scratchy skin. It wore a nametag: Mamay.
Mamay is a Cuban native weighing two or three pounds, which is a lot of fruit if you don’t like the flavor. But I did. It’s a delightfully weird fruit, not super sweet, with the texture of baked sweet potatoes and an overtone of its relative, the sapote (known in India as the chiku.) It has a giant and very shiny seed (the one in the photo is nearly the length of my hand) which was sprouting merrily inside. However, I was relieved to read that the seeds don’t necessarily grow true to type, because I’d have felt obligated to put the thing in my garden, and there I would have been, standing on the street giving away three-pound footballs that taste like sapote crossed with sweet potatoes.