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Take the prehistoric-looking tropical fruit cherimoya. 

This prehistoric-looking tropical fruit has thick, scaly green skin and looks more like a Jurassic Park prop than a yummy dessert choice. And yet it’s a symphony of sweetness. It’s no wonder why the Incas reserved it as a treat for royalty and Mark Twain called it “the most delicious fruit known to men.”

Native to the inter-Andean valleys of Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia, cherimoyas grow in big, bushy trees and are very popular in Latin American cuisine. They’re easily found in street markets around the region — and under myriad names.

In Brazil, people call them graviolas; in Mexico, poox; in Belize, tukibs; in Haiti, cachimans la Chine; and in Venezuela, chirimorrinons — quite a tongue twister. They come in hundreds of different varieties, with names like Deliciosa, McPherson and Chavez, and while they do well in tropical climates, they are also grown in places like the south of Spain and California.

What does it taste like? Well, it’s difficult to describe but resembles a mouthwatering cross of other exotic fruits, including banana, pineapple, papaya and mango. This odd combination makes it taste more like a dessert: custard, fruit pudding or even bubblegum. “It’s one of those very particular tastes that either you love or hate,” says Carmen Pons, a fruit vendor at a Barcelonian market.

The soft, beige interior might not seem very appetizing. The cherimoya has the texture of a rotting pear and is filled with big, black (slightly toxic) seeds, but use a spoon to scoop out its squishy insides, and you won’t be disappointed. What’s more, packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, protein and dietary fiber, this fruit turns out to be quite a superfood.

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