To Our Customers:
Although it looks like a mouthful, Guallarauco is pretty easy to pronounce. Just say Gwhy-yuh-raowko. It is not a made up name, but the name of a beach on Chile’s coast, just to the west of the capital, Santiago. It is also the name given to a production of some wonderful jarred fruit grown on a farm or "predio” owned by the Piwonka family in Longotoma, in Chile’s V region.
Alberto Piwonka, an hydraulic engineer by profession, and his son Juan Luis, a graduate of UC Davis, work about 600 hectares of land, some of the most improbably dry and stony ground I have ever seen. With water, however, it flourishes incredibly.
I visited Gaullarauco on a trip to Chile in March, 2006. The production plant is surrounded by the orchards producing other fruit that the Piwonkas also harvest. Their production methodology is to use only the best fruit for jarring or frozen pulp production. The next best is exported fresh, and the last selection is sold on the local market.
When I say that Guallarauco fruit is a revelation, I mean just that: There is no other fruit like it commercially available. Golden Carica (Carica pubescens) is the possible exception since there are a number of producers. But even their Carica is wonderful since it comes from the plantations adjacent to the processing plant.
Lobeshaped, Golden Carica looks like a large bell pepper that has been emptied. Aromatic and crunchy textured, unlike other papaya, it can only be eaten cooked. Once harvested, it is peeled, seeded, cooked in beet sugar syrup, and jarred. Eaten directly from the jar, it is delicious. Stuffed with a cream or creamy cheese filling, the effect is wonderful. Its culinary uses are limited only by your imagination.
The tiny white peaches, Baby Peaches (Duraznitos de San Jose) of supposed Italian origin, went to Spain and then to Chile with the Jesuits in the 1600s. This variety of peach, now well acclimatized to the dry and saline soil conditions of northern Chile, is very popular in home gardens. Plantings close to the processing plant have been made since this peach’s fragility and short post harvest life have made purchasing fruit from individual growers difficult. The delicate aromatic scent and light almondy flavor of this peach are extremely attractive and delicious. This is another of those “I bet you can’t eat just one” foods which become addictive.
Wild Pears (Peritas silvestres) are unique pears not over two inches high, peeled and packed in light sugar syrup. Most of them do not have a hard seed case in their interior. Historically these also were brought to Chile by the Jesuits in the 1600s, and are now completely feral, hence their name of “silvestres.”
Not yet cultivated by the Piwonkas, the fruit is purchased from backyards where the trees grow, or they harvest them from the wild. The tree looks like a pear tree, but multiplies from runner like scions that it sends out. Possibly a seedling of some sort, it may just have been one of the cultivars which were lost in Europe at the great freeze in 1710. If so, they remain in Chile, now completely naturalized and uncultivated. Peeled and jarred in syrup, the Wild Pears have a fragrant, textured and buttery flesh. Their size is two mouthfuls at best. How about chocolate enrobed whole pears?
Huesillos al jugo are a traditional Chilean treat. These are yellow fleshed, normal sized peaches, unpitted and sun dried until dehydrated then rehydrated in a light sugar syrup which leaves them wrinkled but with a concentrated flavor. A traditional summer drink is “huesillo con mote,” nothing other than simply boiled whole wheat berries (mote) mixed with the huesillo and juice served icy cold. Delicious and refreshing, this drink also could become addictive. I tasted it on a hot afternoon, served icy cold, spooning a bit of cooked wheat (mote) with some syrup and a scoop of peach: flavorful and satisfying with different textures.
Guallarauco fruit can also be used in different ways other than as, well, fruit. They are wonderful warmed in the defatted pan juices of pork roasts, roast duck, goose, or even turkey. Their consistency holds up well and they just need to be warmed. Use your imagination.