When one thinks of a pejibaye, or peach palm fruit, most often their mind goes to the curious orange ball that has a dollop of mayo it. The Pejibaye Festival, now in its 21st year, reveals that this giving tree can be so much more.
Every year around the end of September a two weekend festival is held in Tucurrique, Costa Rica. Tucurrique is curiously close to the town of Pejibaye and our guess is that the small town of Pejibaye doesn’t offer the space or road conditions adequate to hold a festival of this size. In between the two towns there are hills covered in pejibaye palms intercropped with bananas and sugar cane, so it makes for a pretty drive. To get there, get to route 10 between Turrialba and Cartago. The event schedule includes live music, DJ’s, a tour of the surrounding area and more than 50 different vendors. Even though there are craft booths, orchid boots and carnival rides the best part of the pejibaye festival by far is the food and drink.
Every path is decorated with steaming pejibayes and impressive natural displays of the hanging fruits. Coolers filled with containers of pejiabye and heart of palm salad are stacked 3 or 4 high in the booths. The Pejibaye tree is a source of Heart of Palm, not all palm trees have this delicious center.
The vendor pictured below makes flour from the fruit. He blanches it, grinds it and lets it dry for 15 days before he can package it. It is made in Tucurrique. Below that you can see the plethora of products made using the flour. I had the chiverre empanadas and the cajetas.(small, sweet squares) They were both tasty.
The chica was bubbly. It is all natural fermented drink with a minimal alcohol content. It was a very popular booth even if this picture doesn’t show it.
Two types of wine were represented – Organic wine from Vinos Don Julian and homemade pejibaye wine. Only Vinos Don Julio had free samples. Don Julian reminded us that we could find these wines in 8 different Auto Mercado’s and that maybe we should let other people step up to the table.
I got word that the Mr. Solis, President of Costa Rica, arrived shortly after I left. I would have enjoyed having a pic taken with him too! Maybe next year?
What I Had Hoped to See
What I didn’t see at the pejibaye festival was a lot of information about the tree itself. I have many pejibayes on our farm were curious about harvesting methods, processing and wood uses. For instance, I know the wood was used to make bows and arrows by Indians. They also used the large poisonous spines as the arrow tips. I also know that there is a project in a nearby town in which the wood is dried and used as ceiling boards. I will be visiting that project soon and hopefully be able to better utilize this amazing and quick growing resource. This is an early video of harvesting and cooking up my first batch of pejibaye.
Read this article from FAO.org for detailed information on the uses of the tree.