Bite into a stinking toe
Ridge to Reef grows stinking toe sproutlings to distribute to the community, where the seeds are used in jewelry. (Nate Olive, Ridge to Reef Farm)
The “stinking toe” of the Caribbean Islands may not sound appetizing, but to many residents, it is one of the land’s most delicious fruits.
Officially known as the West Indian Locust, the stinking toe tree produces a seed pod that looks like a big, brown toe and also smells like one when the hard outer shell is cracked open. To make up for the nearly unbearable smell, the fibrous, powdery tanfruit has an addicting sweet taste inside.
“If the fruit is rotten, you can tell by the lack of smell,” said Nate Olive, program director of the organic Ridge to Reef farm in St Croix on the US Virgin Islands. “But when that crisp, pungent smell hits a stinking toe veteran’s nose, it activates the salivary glands.” He recommends letting the fibrous pulp melt in the mouth.
Throughout the islands, you may be able to find the stinking toe served in juice or pick it from one of the wild-growing trees, though recent storms have destroyed some older trees, so the fruit is harder to find than it once was.
Not brave enough to take a bite right from the pod? At Ridge to Reef, the chefs serve stinking toe in passion fruit cups or in ice cream when the fruit is in season (usually late winter or early spring). Stay on the farm in a shared cabana for $45 a night, or get a private cabana for $95 a night.
Even if you don’t come to love the smell, the fruit’s nutrition benefits might win you over. The stinking toe comes packed with iron and calcium and has a history of being a natural energy booster.