Guava tree

My grandma has a guava tree in her garden. That tree was already there when I was born and in all likelihood will continue to be there long after I’m gone. That’s not surprising, after all, it is a sturdy tree that easily adapts to different kinds of terrain and climate.

The tree is strong and so is the smell of its fruit. There are many kinds of guavas in the world, varying in color and size. Some are white or pink inside, some are green or yellow outside and some can fit in your hand while some others can be as big as a grapefruit. My grandma’s guavas are green on the outside and white on the inside; roughly larger than a golf ball.

Whenever I go into her garden I always make sure to pay a visit to my friend, the guava tree. To be honest, I have an ulterior motive, I’m looking for guavas in order to make one of my favorite treats: empanadas de guayaba (guava pastries). My grandma’s tree seems to bear fruit all year round, considering that whenever I go, I can find its gifts waiting for me. Maybe the reason for this is because the tree likes me just as much as I like him, or maybe it’s just the fact that my grandma lives in a tropical climate and her tree gets plenty of sunshine. I’m pretty sure it’s the first reason.

I usually harvest the ones that are ripe, but still in the tree, since the ones on the ground are by now probably home to little worms that I doubt want to be part of the pastry filling.

Making the empanadas can be fun, as long as you don’t pay much attention to the loads of butter (worst case scenario lard!) and sugar that the recipe calls for. While grandma makes the dough for the pastries (saving me the pain of seeing exactly how much of the above described ingredients I’m about to consume) I wash the guavas, peel them, remove the soft centers and put them in a pot with water, sugar and cinnamon powder until the liquid becomes thick like a syrup. Then I blend it and the filling is ready for the pastries!

After what seems like an interminable wait (exactly 20 minutes) the empanadas are ready and there is nothing left to do but to eat them. Fresh out of the oven, they are piping hot and I know I’ll probably burn my tongue a little bit, but it’s all worth it. With the first bite the world and its woes start to melt away in my mouth and with the second bite I start to believe that, just like the guava tree, I could be strong enough to thrive in almost any soil.

(c) Manigandan Swaminathan (creative commons)
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