On a recent trip to the isletas in Granada, I nearly completed my quest to find every fruit and flower mentioned in Carlos Mejia Godoy’s famous song, Nicaragua Nicaragüita (lyrics at the end of this post). Someday I will have the opportunity to try some “mielita de Tamagas” (honey from Tamagas) and then the song will truly be complete for me.

While we were on a boat touring around the islets, I asked about large coconut sized brown fruits hanging off of a tree I didn’t recognize, and our tour guide Ramon told me they were Jilincoche. Later, he pulled the boat over underneath one and broke off this long yellow spike that looked like a mangrove seed.

No one knew what it was. He pinched the top and the petals magically disconnected themselves and opened, revealing a tangle of crimson stamen inside. The crew of tourists appropriately “oohed”, and then the drama was over and the banana-peel like petals flopped down.

The attention-demanding presence of the dramatic Jilincoche flower differs greatly from it’s floral partner in the first verse, the “siempre viva” (ever-bloomings). Siempre viva is the common name for globe amaranth, or Gomphrena. The spanish name is very appropriate, as the dry globular flowers will maintain their color for over a year after they are picked. With my limited florists background (limited to arranging dried flowers to sell at a farmstore), I would never pair Jilincoche and siempre viva together in a bouquet.

“La frutita de tigüilote” is a very small translucent berry, sweet and extremely slimy in texture. I gagged. The branches of the tree will sprout roots just by sticking them in the soil, and they are often used as living fence posts. The leaves and berries are a popular herbal remedy for parasites.

“Jocote tronador” is a variety of the very locally popular Nicaraguan Jocote fruit, similar to a small dry plum with a big pit. Tronador (from the same root as trueno, thunder?) refers to the fact that this variety of jocote has particularly crisp skin and sweet softer flesh, so that when you first bite into the fruit it makes a very satisfactory cracking noise. I have only found this particular jocote variety in the market once, and I love them.

“Pejibay” are palm fruits, botanically miniature coconuts. The coconut equivalent is a round inedible rock hard seed, surrounded by an orange fibrous flesh that would be the thick pithy rind around a coconut. They grow on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, and are cooked in salt water. A “cogoyito” refers to the way they grow, in clusters like grapes. The taste is something between an artichoke heart and chestnut, nutty and starchy. I could eat them for hours.

“Granito de Maiz” is a grain of corn, essential to Nicaraguan cuisine and health. They are sown in the furrows of nearly every single Nicaraguan farm with great hope and faith in their harvest.

Marañon is cashew fruit, and it’s juice is indeed “dulce y elaste” (sweet and elastic).” It also has the most bitter aftertaste imaginable, and completely puckered my mouth up the first and only time I have tried it. Check out the elastic drop of Marañon juice hanging off of Edgar’s hand.

Which leaves me at the final verse and my last remaining challenge, the mielita de Tamagas.  Together, the pictures unite some of Nicaragua’s most exotic and most common fruits and flowers in a sticky, sweet and colorful image of Nicaragua.

 

Ay Nicaragua, Nicaragüita

Recibe como prenda de mi amor

este ramo de siempreviva y jilincoches

que hoy florecen para vos

Cuando yo beso tu frente pura

beso las perlas de tu sudor

mas dulcita que la frutita del tigǖilote

y el jocote tronador.

 

Ay Nicaragua, Nicaragüita

mi cogoyito de pejibay

mi pasion se enterro en el surco de tu querencia

como un granito de maiz

tu saliva es dulce y elaste

como la sabia del maraňon

que restaňa con alegria

todos los días

mi rebelde corazon

que restaňa con alegria

todos los días

mi rebelde corazon

 

Ay Nicaragua Nicaragüita

La flor mas linda de mi querer

Abonada con la bendita, Nicaragüita,

Sangre de Diriangen.

Ay Nicaragua sos mas dulcita

Que la mielita de Tamagas

Pero ahora que ya sos libre, Nicaragüita,

Yo te quiero mucho mas

Pero ahora que ya sos libre, Nicaragüita,

Yo te quiero mucho mas.

 

Carlos Mejia Godoy

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