I just had my first Café de Capomo at the Puerto Vallarta Farmers’ Market which had its last day yesterday. Closes for summer which is a shame! But that gives the stallholders time to bottle, craft, cook etc. for next season.
The stall that caught my eye was Café de Capomo, and as around here I am always looking for local coffees to try, I drank the brew. It was delicious. Naturally, I bought 500 grams. This coffee substitute was drunk by the Mayans and it has been adapted to modern taste. The problem is that the many of the berry bearing trees have been ripped out of rainforest jungles to make way for crops and heaven help me, eco resorts! We are fortunate to live near the producer, Eco Tours Villa Vallejo in San Juan de Abajo in Nayarit state, Mexico. There is a growing and harvesting, roasting, processing and distribution business in its infancy here. Whoo hooo! Great for me as I love trying new things that are produced locally and are traditional foods (though mangrove worms are not my thing.). It is quite a delicious drink. Great when make their way, better when a Melitta filter paper is used.
The gentleman at the stall explained how this began life as a green berry around as big as a lychee. It is pretty much process in the same way as coffee.
The breadnut is extremely high in fiber, calcium, potassium, folic acid, iron, zinc, protein and vitamins A, E, C and B. The fresh seeds can be cooked and eaten or can be set out to dry in the sun to roast and eaten later like macadamia nuts which it resembles quite closely apart from the hard woody cover on the latter. Stewed the nut tastes like mashed potato, roasted it tastes like chocolate or coffee and can be prepared in numerous other dishes. Here it is being cultivated with a view to building an export business and locals drink it (2 tablespoons to a litre of boiling water, steep 3 minutes and use as coffee) as powder, for hot beverages, and bread. As a flour substitute you just swap it for some of the flour in cakes. (Not all).
The tree itself is made of semi-hard wood which graduates from pale yellow at the exterior to a reddish heart in the centre. Guitar makers love this wood as do furniture designers and this has taken the tree to endangered status. All is not lost though as there is a move to plant them in plantations as long as they can market the berries to the world. So tell your caffeine hating friends! Here is a coffee flavour that is really convincing without a jot of caffeine!
Its berries and leaves and twigs can be fed to cattle, goats and poultry and these animals yield more milk, eggs, meat etc. when fed with a capomo diet. The scientific name is Brosimum alicastrum and alternative names are ramon nut and breadfruit nut and breadnut. It is related to mulberries and figs. As a forage tree, it has supplied jungle food for animals in the wild.
As I discover more of the Mayan traditional foods (including Chia) I find it quite amazing that they ever suffered famine as so much of their cuisine is based on gatherable and bountiful jungle plants. We’ll never really understand it but it seems to me that the inventions of the hammock and beer are threatening as many people in the societies of their descendants!!