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
“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.