When you ask Ticos what their favourite fruity snack is a likely response is Mamon Chino! The little fruit, also known as Rambutan originally grows in Southeast Asia and therefore the meaning of the Costa Rican term Mamon Chino can be simply translated as “Chinese Sucker”. The Mamon Chino tree is related to the Lychee and to the Mamones, but the Mamon Chinos is distinguished by their red and hairy skin. This leathery skin protects the sweet, milky-white pulp, which has a jelly-like consistency. In the middle of the fruit you can find the almond-shaped seed, hardly fixed in the pulp.
If you want to eat the fruit straight, like most of the Ticos and locals do, peal the hairy skin off by using your fingers carefully and enjoy the fruit by sucking on the pulp. But take care of your teeth and remember the seed is really hard!
In addition to the pulp, the leaves, the roots and the bark of the Mamon Chino trees are useful as well. The indigenous people of Southeast Asia dyed their clothes with it and revered it because of its healing characteristics. So go ahead and try this seasonal and exotic fruit available at fruit stands and surely any farmer’s market that you will visit at this time of year (July-August) in Costa Rica!