by Mary Ann Castronovo Fusco
holds that St. Patrick used shamrocks to explain the mysteries of the
Christian faith to the people of Ireland. In the New World, Spanish
missionaries used the passion flower, which is indigenous to the tropical
Americas, in much the same way.
priests christened the flower (right) they encountered in the Caribbean “la
flor de las cinco llagas” — the flower of the five wounds — for
its various parts were seen as symbolic of various aspects of Christ’s
explorers felt that the passion flower had a special purpose to promote
the spiritual life among the people where it grew,” wrote Patrick
Jesse Pons-Worley, author of The Passionfruit Cookbook (ChloroPhorms
Books, 2001; $17).
tendons of the plant, he notes, were taken as symbols of the lashes
Christ endured, and the central flower column as the pillar of the scourging.
The 72 radial filaments of the flower were seen as the crown of thorns;
the three stigmas as symbols of the nails used in the crucifixion, as
well as the holy Trinity; the five anthers, as the five wounds of Christ;
and the style as the sponge doused in vinegar used to moisten Christ’s
lips. Taken together, the five petals and five sepals were used to refer
to the ten apostles who did not either betray or deny Christ. The fragrance
of the flower, continued Pons-Worley, helped recall the spices used
to embalm the body of Christ.Finally, its globular egg-size fruit was
taken as a symbol of the world that Christ saved through his suffering.
More about Passion Fruit
Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, the delicacy we know as passion
fruit came to be called “granadilla,” which means small pomegranate,
probably because the orange flesh is composed of seedy transparent sacs
like that of a pomegranate, explained Pons-Worley, a botanical artist
who raises passion fruit at his home in Royal Oaks, California.
Elizabeth Schneider, author of Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables
(Morrow, 1986; $28), the inside of the fruit “gives the impression
of a tablespoon of fish eggs about to hatch or paramecia gone mad.”
On the outside, she writes, “it looks like a partly deflated rubber
ball left in the rain, then dried.”
the fruit’s ungodly looks, passion fruit disciples contend that its taste
is divine. “It’s like a fruit caviar. It tastes like a combination
of pineapple and guava, a flavor like nothing else,” said Pons-Worley.
“There’s a floral scent that’s wonderful. Just the fruit itself smells
really good, and it carries through.”
that heavenly flavor and aroma can be put to practical use in a variety
of beverages and dishes, including salads, entrees, desserts, jams, and
jellies. Pons-Worley’s cookbook, which he sells at http://www.ponsworley.com,
contains more than 180 recipes using the fruit. But sometimes simplest
is best. “If you’ve got a good ripe one, just cut it in half and
scoop it out and eat it, or put it on ice cream or cake,” he explained.
decent source of vitamin A and potassium, passion fruit is available throughout
the year from various regions. If you don’t see it, ask your produce manager
about availability. When shopping for passion fruit, keep these pointers
varieties are most common; but you may also see yellow-skinned passion
fruit. The flesh of the purple types is usually sweeter.
fruits are more ripe than non-wrinkled fruits,” noted Jonathan
Crane, a tropical fruit specialist with the University of Florida. “If
you want to use it right way, get a wrinkled one.” If none of the
fruit is wrinkled, leave it out on your counter for a few days.
is another sign of ripening.
- The fruit’s
seeds are edible (and provide a good dose of fiber). If you prefer not
to eat the seeds, strain them out by placing the flesh in a strainer
and pushing on the pulp with the back of a spoon.
labels of packaged passion fruit carefully. If it contains only passion
fruit, you will have to add water and perhaps sugar to make a fruit
drink. Some passion fruit beverages, however, already contain water
fruit may be marketed under several Spanish names. These include labeled
chinola, granadilla, maracuja, parcha, and parchita.
Looking to the Cross for Nourishment
Over the past
several years doctors and nutritionists worldwide have been advising
their patients to eat cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts,
cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens,
turnips, and watercress. According to the American Institute for Cancer
Research, “Several laboratory studies have suggested that cruciferous
vegetables help regulate a complex system of bodily enzymes that defend
against cancer. Components of these vegetables have shown the ability
to stop the growth of cancer cells in various cell, tissue, and animal
models, including tumors of the breast, endometrium, lung, colon, liver,
But why the
tells us that the root of the word is the Latin crux, which means
“cross,” and that one of the definitions for “cruciferous”
is “bearing a cross.” Botanists use the term to describe a
family of plants whose flowers have four petals arranged like the arms
of a cross. It could just well be that humanity’s long-awaited cure
for cancer may lie in the cross, the ultimate symbol of salvation.