Why you should care
Because this is nature’s apple pie.
After more than a year, the housekeeper had grown accustomed to the lanky American’s short-shorts and odd tastes. The typical Malagasy diet consists of copious amounts of rice, cassava leaves and stewed meats, but the American wanted beet smoothies and bags of nuts. So when she saw coeur de boeuf scribbled on his grocery list, she shrugged and thought, “Crazy American.” To the outdoor market she went, grabbing fruits and veggies and dutifully ticking off this latest bizarre request: beef heart. She returned home, opened up the package and placed the bloody cow heart on a plate in the refrigerator.
Lost in translation — brilliantly. What the silly expat really wanted was far from an animal organ; he was hoping for a fruit, nicknamed beef heart, known more commonly, and by Malagasy, as pomme cannelle (French for cinnamon apple).
The creamy white inside is dotted with large black seeds, as if an apple has received a tropical makeover.
Pommes cannelle, arguably the wackiest and most delicious fruit around, are found in Madagascar, while its cousins are grown in other parts of the world’s tropics, including Asia and South America. Though the sugary fruit is of the genus Annona, it is not to be confused with cherimoya or sugar apples, with flavors like pineapple or peach. The type in Madagascar’s markets love the heat and are distinctly cinnamon-apple-flavored, making them possibly the most perfect fruit turned dessert out there.
The heart-shaped fruit tastes like some seriously all-American apple pie, but looks distinctly prehistoric, with a green, bumpy peel. The creamy white inside is dotted with large black seeds, as if an apple has received a tropical makeover. To eat one of these bad boys simply slice it in half and dig in with a spoon. If ever there was an inspiration for kitchen-crafted custard, this is it. For a particularly pleasant twist, scoop the insides out of the leathery shell, freeze them and eat as an alternative to ice cream.
The texture isn’t for everyone. Kate England, a Canadian friend of mine who’s lived in Madagascar for several years, describes it as “pasty and grainy,” even though she loves beef heart. So consider yourself warned and go try some … if you can find it.