It’s fall here on Maui, which means that we’re watching geese fly in v-formation, and our winter flip-flops–or “slippers,” as they say in Hawaii–are on deck for roughing it during those sub-80-degree days. Luckily, the expert hiking guides that lead Hike Maui guests through the rainforests will still have no trouble finding wild fruits along the trees and vines that line the trails. There’s guava and coffee and mangoes, and, as one guest put it, “guacamole trees” that will be producing for months to come.
But my favorite trail treat of all time is lilikoi, or, as you might call it, passionfruit. One day, as Nicholas was helping guests find ripe lilikoi in a grassy clearing lined with vines, a guest named Bernie looked at the inside of the fruit I was holding and said, “I wonder what made the first person to see this stuff want to try eating it.”
“He must have been really hungry,” I said.
And it’s true. If you’ve ever seen lilikoi before, you can’t imagine what would make someone want to try it–until you do try it. Ripe lilikoi will likely look pinched, wrinkled and bruised on the outside, and green and slimy on the inside. Those of you who love strong, tart flavors will adore the friendly punch that lilikoi packs. It’s the gastronomic equivalent of waterfall
cliff-jumping: An exciting, surprisingly pleasant experience that lasts but a moment. Lilikoi are petite little powerhouses of flavor, which was why I failed to take a photo of the last one I slurped down: I was too busy finding another and another, and then someone reminded me that Nicholas was leading a hike, not a graze. Fair enough.
Like the hiking trips we share with our guests, this blog is about the exploration and discovery of wild places. Since there are few places wilder than the Internet, I turned to Google for images of our friend, the lilikoi, and happened upon a lovely little blog called Dirty Fingernails 808, written by someone on Maui who raises all manner of fruits and vegetables, along with some chickens and goats. Here’s her firsthand account of accidentally growing lilikoi, along with some photos and a post specifically about her experiences growing these little sour gems. We don’t know the author of this blog, but we’re happy to link to it as a recognition of the abundance of the good stuff on Maui, whether it’s made by nature or a gardening buff named Julie.
If you’re daring enough to try the much-celebrated lilikoi, but don’t find them on the trails or surrounding fields, they are a mainstay at Maui’s farmers markets. (There’s one in North Kihei and one in Kula that’s exceptional.) Happy Grazing. I joke. I mean slurping. Hiking.
In a related story about the wild, and our continued adventures in it, we’re committing the digital equivalent of re-releasing ourselves into the wild by posting more regularly to our blog. We’re also reaching out to Maui lovers by way of Facebook. Come to the Hike Maui Facebook page and “like” us–if in fact you really do. And you can find Hike Maui on Twitter now, too. Come by and “@” us anytime.