For anyone not in the know about prickly pears, or chumbos as they are called here, check out my chapter Swimming Pools and Prickly Pears…you´ll be enlightened.
We love prickly pears, such a delicious fruit with a super short season of about 6 weeks. Collecting them probably classifies as a dangerous sport, and the old men seem to be the experts as this. Finding the ideal patch of prickly pears can be as closely guarded a secret as where to find truffles.
I guess they are an acquired taste, but if you do ever find them (ready prepared or not) I can highly recommend them.
Big Man and I count the days until the first sighting of prickly pears which are turning from green to a blush pink. An early morning start is recommended, as the prickles are less “prickly” having been softened in the cool of the night.
A good brush in the dirt first with a plant that grows near the chumberos, called altabaca, then a hose down and another roughing up with a broom…and you´re ready to peel.
Two people are needed for this part. One to peel and the other to lift the chumbos off the skin and put them into a container.
What a relief when you get to the end of the bucket of chumbos as you can put the fruit in the fridge to chill nicely and then get your tweezers out to remove those pesky little spines which, inevitably, will have found their way into your fingers.
Then you can either just gorge on them straight from the fridge or have a little tapas session with some jamon, cheese and cold melon….oh, and wine of course!