The Nanche Tree

My grandma has a nanche tree in her garden. It stands comfortably in the middle of the garden, making himself at home, stretching his branches as far as they can reach; to the south they intertwine with the guava tree, to the east they almost touch the papaya tree, to the north they scratch the balcony from the second floor and to the west they just float happily in the air.

The nanche tree is the least known of the trees in my grandma’s garden, for even in my country many people haven’t seen it or heard from it. Unlike other hot climate trees that can be found across continents, the nanche is limited to Central and South America.

I have always wanted to climb the nanche. Since it is a rather short tree it looks like it should be an easy task. Unfortunately (or fortunately) for me I have never gathered the proper amount of courage and recklessness to do it. This doesn’t prevent me, however, from enjoying its flavorful fruits, the nanches.

The nanches are round little treats, yellow outside and white inside, roughly the size of my thumb (I have very small thumbs) with a black seed at the core that could easily pass for a peppercorn. Nanches can be eaten raw or turned into popsicles, preserves or liquor.

My grandma’s specialty are the preserves. She washes the nanches and boils them twice. The second time she is adding what seems like a ton of dark brown sugar and a bunch of cinnamon sticks. Then she puts them in jars and distributes them liberally among family and friends. The whole preserve making process takes probably more than 3 hours and I must say that even though they are tasty, I don’t like how their outer skin changes from bright yellow and smooth to rusty bronze and pruny.

Never mind, I can keep eating them fresh from the tree, a tree that maybe one day (emphasis on the maybe) I will climb.

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