The guava is my favourite fruit firmly established in this position from my childhood days in Sri Lanka picking guavas from trees of our neighbours. It was the combination of a slight acidity with the overall sweetness that won me over. There was also the eye-catching pink of the fruit contrasting against the yellowgreen of the skin. There was the satisfying crunch of the hundreds of tiny yellow seeds embedded unavoidably in the whole of the flesh. Then there was that musky, slightly heady perfume, strong enough to drift from the fruit bowl to perfume the whole room. And then there was the deep red guava jelly, dipping into a jar with a teaspoon and licking on that deliciousness like a lollipop, or biting into a hot crumpet with the jelly melting into its porous body and down my fingers.
For the first 30 of my 60 years in Australia guavas were just a memory. I don’t recall seeing them in gardens or at the fruiterer’s. Somewhere somewhen they began to appear in Asian shops and I was able to revive my love affair with the fruit. The last 30 years I have lived in a house with a mature guava tree. Each season it’s a battle between me and the native birds as to who is going to get the most fruit. Always though there are enough for both of us. I turn a good part of my quota into guava jelly and guava cheese – no spoilers from me on how to make both, that comes later in this article.
Which is a lead into just what this article is about. I have over the last years been researching the less written about items in the Australian foodscape. Often one thing will lead to another. particularly when I find something that surprises me with how long they have been part of the foodscape. So it was with the guava where my assumption of its relative recentness in Australia was challenged.