The passion fruit or pasionaria
By Marketman Updated Friday June 03, 2011 - 12:00am

Amazing what a catchy name will do for your popularity. Naive that I am sometimes, I thought the name "passion fruit" was coined because the fruit ignited one's libido or acted as some sort of aphrodisiac. Or if I were to make a more graphic definition, that the texture, consistency and look of the pulp and seeds would react with one's gonads in the same manner that raw oysters are supposed to help in that regard. But my trusty reference books suggest otherwise, and I was surprised to read that the fruit seems to get its name from quite an opposite source to the whole "fired loins theory." It seems, according to Alan Davidson in the Oxford Companion to Food, that the flower of this fruit is known as "flor de las cinco lagas" or "flower of the five wounds" and missionaries in South America used this to illustrate the crucifixion of Christ and thus “The Passion” and from there, “passion fruit!” Yikes, talk about being way off the mark!

This vine (Passiflora edulis) is native to South America and Australia. It worked its way up to Southeast Asia and thrives in some parts of the Philippines. The fruits of this yellow orange variety (most likely from the Australian variety) are about the size of a small lemon and inside are several tablespoons of pulp and seed that have an unusual texture and a striking but subtle flavor. The fruit also comes in a stunning deep purple/burgundy color that is quite arresting visually, and probably native to Brazil or South America. I have seen passion fruit used in desserts, juices, and eaten as is. Passion fruit pavlova (a meringue based dessert) is a common dessert in Australia and New Zealand, and I think the brilliance of the treat lies in the tart sweetness of the passion fruit pulp combined with the richness of cream and the sweetness of the meringue. I haven’t found an equivalent use in local desserts, but the fruit is enjoyed raw or in juices. I suspect it makes a wonderful jam or preserve with the right recipe.

The pulp of several passion fruit into a glass pitcher with some sugar water, water and ice also makes for a very refreshing drink. Even though pomegranate in Spanish is granada and passion fruit in Spanish are granadillas or little pomegranates, they are not actually of the same family at all.  

It isn’t that easy to find passion fruit in Manila markets unless in season, as they have been for the past few weeks, but you can occasionally spot them at weekend markets or large groceries. I gather they are far more plentiful in Mindanao and parts of the Visayas, but I also see them at roadside stalls in Batangas and Cavite at this time of year.

Author's note: Parts of this article were previously published by the same author on

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