Pronunciation: [mon-STEH-ruh]

Also called ceriman and Mexican breadfruit, this unique tropical-American fruit looks like a narrow, foot-long pine cone. The thick, green skin has hexagonal scales that individually separate and pop off as the fruit begins to ripen. Inside, the ripe, off-white flesh is formed in segments correlating to the skin's pattern. It's creamy-smooth and resembles a very firm custard. The flavor is sweet-tart and reminiscent of pineapple with touches of banana and mango. If underripe, however, the monstera has an off-taste and an irritant that will inflame both mouth and throat. In the United States, the monstera can be found in California, Florida and a few other locales that have produce markets specializing in exotic fruit. The monstera should be ripened at room temperature until the scales pop off and expose the luscious fruit, which is best plucked out and eaten plain with a spoon or fork.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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