Field of Science

That takes the cake! Paw-paw flavor!

TPP took a couple of visiting colleagues to lunch at a local cafe.  The food is quite good and a case of their pastries sits right next to the cashier to tempt you severely.  Sitting on top was a lovely 3-layered yellow cake - a paw-paw cake made by a local baker; it was wonderful.  As best TPP can tell it was a yellow cake with yellow cream cheese paw-paw frosting.  Paw-paws and virtually all its tropical relatives that have fleshy fruits have a somewhat similar after taste, very distinctive, sort of kerosene-like, but not so strong as to be offensive to most people. Not too many people seek and use paw-paws as a result, but the fruits are nearly ripe here in the upper midwest which is about as far north as this "tropical plant family" gets. Flowers have several pistils and one or more fruitlets can result. The skin is rather leathery and inedible. A banana like flesh surrounds several smooth dark seeds (not unlike banana seeds if you have ever eaten non-sterile banana).  Fruits of the genus Annona: custard apples, soursops, sweetsops, cherimoya, are similar, although constructed of many pistils, many fruitlets fused into a single multiple fruit. These all have a hint of the same chemical. Maybe the odor includes amyl acetate or some similar ester; organic chemistry was not TPP's best subject. Grows in woodland under story and is food plant of larvae of zebra swallowtail butterflies. These are the type of flowers TPP studies in the tropics where the family is common.

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