Yesterday, Bonnie and Bernadette (two of our editors and slow food enthusiasts) picked some pawpaw fruits from the trees in one of the courtyards at our office. One was riper than the others and had an interesting banana/citrus scent. There is a patch of pawpaw trees growing along the creek where I live, and every spring I see their blood-red blossoms. But somehow I’ve never actually found a pawpaw fruit in the autumn. Are the animals getting to them first? Or are they just blended in with the leaves then hit the ground and get buried in brush?
A few years ago in all the discussion of Lewis and Clark travels, the story was told that all they had to eat near the end of their trip was pawpaw fruit—but that some of them developed stinging eyes as a result. It turns out that the diary entry by William Clark on Sept. 18, 1806, notes that.
I’m heading out to the woods this weekend to see if I can find some. If I do, I might try the pawpaw cheesecake recipe.