Foods of the Tropical Zone
- The banana is a thick-skinned tropical fruit which comes in variety of sizes and is most commonly yellow when ripe. There are also other types such as red bananas which have a red skin and pink flesh, and baking bananas which are large, red or green in appearance and can't be eaten raw, Bananas have a sweet flavor and a soft, mushy texture and are considered an excellent source of potassium.
Wild forms of the banana plant originated in the Indo-Mayaysian area but are now grown all over the world in tropical and sub-tropical climates.
- Coffee is made from the beans of the coffee plant, native to tropical areas such as Southeast Asia, Africa, Brazil and Columbia. Coffee bushes contain dark glossy green leaves and small, fragrant white flowers that grow in clusters. The fruit is known as a coffee cherry. It is green when unripe, then gradually becomes a dark reddish black color when it is ready to be picked and harvested for the coffee bean inside.
One common method of raising coffee plants includes growing seedlings in nurseries and then planting them outside at 6 to 12 months. The coffee beans are usually picked by hand and undergo several processes such as fermentation and washing before being roasted for consumption.
- The papaya fruit is native to the tropical climate of Southern Mexico but is also cultivated in Northern South America and most other tropical climates.
The fruit grows on a large tree-like plant with a single stem that can grow up to 30 feet tall. Flowers appear at the top of the plant on the axles of the leaves and contain five petals which are slightly waxy and fragrant. The fruit tends to be pear-shaped with yellow skin when ripe. The flesh ranges in color from orange to pink with small black seeds in the center.
- Mangos originated in Southeast Asia and have been grown there for more than 4,000 years. The fruit is now cultivated in many tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world with the majority imported to the United States from areas including Mexico, Haiti and the Caribbean.
These days there are more than 1,000 varieties of mangos. They vary in both size and color but are most often yellow, orange, red or green and contain a single oblong pit which is sometimes described as "hairy." The fruit has a distinctive sweet smell and taste and the flesh resembles that of an unripe peach. Mangos are also rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants as well as being an excellent source of fiber.