When I was a kid, I used to play “explorers” with my dad in the garden or our house in Bogota. We imagined we were the first humans travelling across woods and jungles full of amazing plants and animals.
Among those plants in the yard, I remember there was an exotic bush with caped little yellow berries growing from it. My dad used to take them, peel them and putting them in my mouth.
– It’s an uchuva
He used to tell me while I was playing with it in my mouth. “What a strange name” I thought. And what a strange thing to eat too: sticky and sweet outside, really tangy inside, a very nice an unusual combination.
Years later, when I left Colombia and lived in Europe and in the US, I was trying to explain to my friends what uchuva was, without knowing its English name. Once I described the fruit to them they told me they knew it but with a different name. I was very surprised they knew uchuvas because I believed it was a fruit only available in Colombia.
Uchuvas (Physalis peruviana and also known as ‘yellow tomatoes’ or ‘cape gooseberries’) are in fact quite widespread and popular in many places around the world nowadays but, due to its growing popularity as an industrially produced fruit in Colombia, chances are that the uchuvas you can find in your local supermarket are ‘made in Colombia’.
People normally eat uchuvas raw and fresh, but perhaps unknown for many are the several recipes and meals that can be found in Colombia that use uchuva as the main ingredient. The list of uchuva delicacies includes marmalades, spicy sauces, cheese cakes, sweets and even (and perhaps surprisingly), stuffed poultry. When you visit Colombia for business or as part of your tour around South America, do make sure you sample uchuvas, as well as the many other exotic tropical fruits readily available in all parts of the country.
When I decided to return to Colombia after years of living abroad, my relationship with the uchuva, “the cherry tomato’s cousin”, became stronger. Now, I rarely pass on a chance to eat uchuvas as a snack or as part of a meal. Unfortunately my family does not live in the house with the uchuva bush in the garden any more :).
Uchuvas make it into my list of nice things about being back to this special and beautiful country called Colombia. Living in Colombia means that I have the chance to eat amazing and healthy food including an almost endless variety of fresh fruits all around the year. It also gives me the chance to remember all those good times I spent with my family during my childhood enjoying flavourful uchuvas and imagining I was a magnificent adventurer.
- Colombian Food is Not “Mexican Food” (uncovercolombia.wordpress.com)
- Uncover Colombia Interview: Brighid’s experience in Colombia (uncovercolombia.wordpress.com)