Our guide Juana sits us down on the steps outside of the Minorista market, in central Medellín, Colombia and opens her rucksack. She hands out the ‘tools’ we are going to need for the next few hours: a plastic spoon, a plastic glove and some napkins.
As she’s getting the things out of her bag, one of the other people on the tour notices a hammer inside. “You weren’t supposed to see that!” Juana exclaims. “That’s for later”.
We’re booked on the Real City tours’ fruit tour and for the next couple of hours we’re taken from stall to stall in this very local market, to taste 15 different types of exotic fruits from tomate de arbol (tree tomato) to mamoncillo (Spanish lime) to four different types of passion fruit.
Juana knows the market traders well and they greet her with a smile at each of the stalls as she picks out a new fruity treat for us to try.
At one stop we learn of the aphrodisiac properties of chontaduro or peach palm. It’s the least fruity of the fruits we try. You peel off the skin to reveal a sweet potato like flesh. It has a squash-like taste.
We add salt and honey to the flesh and although not what you’d expect from a fruit, it’s really quite delicious.
The hammer comes into play when we arrive at the stall selling algarroba, apparently known in English as West Indian locust. It’s a funny looking fruit that I’ve never seen before and like many of the fruits that we come across in the market, is usually used in a juice.
James is called upon to smash the shell to get to the sweet powdery insides. Juana tells us that colloquially the fruit is known as ‘stinking toe' because of its cheesy feet smell. Apparently, you should be worried if there isn’t a smell as this means it is rotten.
My personal highlight was discovering maracuya, one of the passion fruits with a surprisingly tart taste, which becomes my fruit juice (and ice lolly) flavour of choice for the rest of our trip around Colombia.
Half way round the market, we stop for a tasty choclo arepa, a common Colombian flat bread, in this instance made with fresh corn to give it a sweet creamy taste.
Once we’ve been round the fruit stalls, we head upstairs to try the fruit in juice form. I go for a luli, which is combination between lulo (little orange) and lemon, which our guide says is unique to that particular market. The lulo was a little strong as a fruit, but juiced and mixed with lemon, it is much gentler and really quite refreshing.
We very much enjoyed our visit to Minorista and the chance to try a good selection of the range of exotic fruits that Colombia has to offer. At a cost of 35.000 COP per person (around £10 or $16), which includes all of the fruit tasting, the fresh arepa, as well as a fresh juice at the end, we found the tour to be pretty good value.
Sarah and James are a British couple who in early 2014 locked their belongings in their attic and rented out their home to go travelling around South America. Now back in the UK, they are getting used to the 9 to 5 again, while planning their next adventure. Sarah blogs on all things South America and travelling as a vegetarian. You can also find her on Twitter.