We have a lucuma tree in front of our house. That is a great privilege and a problem. I will tell you why later. Before coming to Peru, I had never heard of this tree and the fruit it bears. The fruit is round with a thick skin and is about the size and color of a small green apple. Inside, the meat is a yellowish orange around a good-sized seed. The taste, which is unique and which I didn’t care for at first, is mildly sweet with a grainy texture. More than the taste, it was the texture that turned me off a little. Lucuma is unlike any other fruit that I have had.
I have noticed that the birds do not eat the fruit. Maybe the skin is too thick, or they just don’t like the taste, although I didn’t think birds were that choosy. Many birds also use the tree for perching and nesting, but one bird has drawn most of our attention.
In the summer, we keep the kitchen windows open, and they are right next to the lucuma tree. This bird, I think it is a male, discovered that we have a large fruit bowl in the kitchen. So he often slips into the kitchen to peck vigorously on a banana (his favorite) or an apple. If there is a bag of bread rolls on the counter, he can open the bag and peck away. If the window facing the tree is closed, he can find his way through the back. A very smart bird! Even though we have taken measures to prevent this behavior, he persists.
This bird has an attitude. He will fly into the kitchen, land on the floor and scold us for not providing his favorite treats. Secretly I admire his pluck, but others in the family regard him as a pest. I suggested putting some food on the lucuma tree outside the window, as a way of keeping him out of our kitchen. The rest of the family didn’t like that idea at all.
Each year we have a crop of about 200 lucumas. That is both a blessing and a curse. On the good side, we make delicious ice cream from the lucuma. Combined with chocolate, lucuma makes a wonderful dessert found in Lima’s best restaurants.
Now for the downside. The parking area for our car is directly under the tree. When the fruit is ripe, it falls directly onto our car. At first, we endured the small dents that it produced. Then, as it got to be too much, we tried many schemes. Finally, we put a net under the tree that catches most of the fruit when it falls.
Peruvians love this fruit. So it gives me special pleasure to share this fruit with friends and neighbors. That we can do so is another blessing we receive from this tree.