Ah, papaya, arguably one of the most divisive fruits on the planet. Papaya is coriander (cilantro) of fruits, you either love it, or you think it tastes like soap. Unfortunately for papayas, there is no genetic disposition to fall back on, no "my saliva lacks the enzyme that makes it taste good", just plain old unfortunate selection of a fruit that was not yet meant to be eaten because us westerners have not yet caught on to their magic.
Personally, I love papaya. You heard me! When properly ripened, the once tough, soapy flesh is turned into silky, fragrant, sweet, goodness that has some of the most beneficial properties of all the fruits. This is my love letter to papayas. Choose the right one, and you might just find yourself penning a similar sentiment.
Papayas, given their orange colour, are rich in antioxidant nutrients like carotenes, vitamin C and flavonoids. Together, nutrients like B vitamins, folate and pantothenic acid; minerals, like potassium, copper, and magnesium; and fibre promote the health of the cardiovascular system and are also said to aid colon health. Papayas also contain something called papain, a digestive enzyme which breaks down proteins and aids in digestion. In short, consuming papaya is beneficial to the skin, belly, bowels, and even eyes.
How to pick the right one
My belief for the general hatred of papayas is that we haven't been taught how to pick them. Let this be an unofficial guide. For Australians, you want to be looking for red papaya, these are usually the easiest to work with.
Your grocery store/market will likely be presenting a pile of papayas that are half green. Amongst these, you want to be looking for the most yellow/orange fruit of the bunch. Once located, go ahead and take a COVID-safe sniff of the top of the fruit, where the stalk once was. If the papaya smells fragrant (AKA not like nothing) it is usually a good indicator that it's ripe (this goes for any fruit. Smell your fruit, people!). Once opened, the fruit should be vibrant orange and supple.
Ways to eat papaya
Simple is best
My favourite way to eat papaya - which I took from the days I was vegan - is sliced in half, deseeded, and drizzled with lime juice. Eat cold with a spoon and pretend you're in a scene from Blue Lagoon.
The original way
Papayas originate from Mexico, and the locally favoured way to eat them is topped with a spice blend of chiles, salt and lime. I recently discovered that Tajín, a shakeable mexican spice blend of the aforementioned flavours exists in Australia, I'll be covering all of my fruit in that for the foreseeable future.
The AM way
For those looking for a more substantial breakfast option: Slice your papaya longways and scoop out the seeds. Into the well that the seeds previously occupied, add coconut yoghurt and granola. Top with honey if you please. You can also just slice and add to granola like normal, but this way you won't have to wash up a bowl.
image credit: @loveryanceramics