Brazilians from the nation’s central states add one particularly dangerous, polarizing ingredient to chicken and rice. While filming in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, Anthony Bourdain once described the pequi fruit as “loved and hated in equal measure, described by both camps as tasting sweaty, or like a barnyard.” But it’s not pequi’s unique flavors that have earned the fruit its fearsome reputation. That honor goes to the tiny spikes surrounding its pit, which lodge themselves into the mouths of foolhardy diners who bite into the seemingly innocuous fruit with abandon.
Nibbling this citrus-and-cheese-flavored fruit takes patience and skill. After peeling away its green skin and removing one of the orange orbs inside, one must carefully scrape the outer pulp with only the top teeth so as not to penetrate the next layer, which contains its spike-filled core. The same technique applies to eating any preparation of whole pequi fruits, even when cooked. While the peeled orange nuggets may look inviting when flavoring a savory dish of chicken or rice, they still house the same spines that will penetrate your gums, tongue, and palate.
If you’re not feeling up to the challenge, there are other ways to enjoy pequi. Farmers also transform the fruit into preserves and liqueur that go down far easier than a mouthful of spikes.