This curious item, which looks a little like a russet potato with lots of eyes, appeared on the shelves of our local grocery store labeled as ‘Cactus Pears’. The name was unfamiliar to me but, when I Googled it, I discovered that the same article is often called ‘Prickly Pears’, which I have heard of before. I should note here that, according to Wikipedia, the name ‘Prickly Pear’ is shared by quite a few different things but is most commonly used to refer to this particular fruit.
The cactus pear, also known as ‘cactus fig’ in addition to ‘prickly pear’, does indeed come from a type of cactus colloquially known as the ‘Paddle Cactus’. I was surprised when I saw a picture of the plant as it looks exactly like a variety we had growing in our garden in Libya when I was a small child. However, I can’t for the life of me remember any ‘pears’ on them at all. The cactus is most associated with Mexico but it also grows in South America and, I was astounded to learn, can be found as far North as New England and southern Ontario. In any event, the fruit looked really interesting and, naturally, I had to give it a try… Continue reading “Cactus Pear”