Lulo, obando, nuqui
Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense) is a popular fruit in Ecuador, also common in other South American countries, like Peru and Colombia. Nowadays, it is getting increasingly hard to find it in its area of origin, the city of Quito. In fact, the scientific name of the species, Solanum quitoense, derives from the name of the Ecuadorian capital.
It is thus a species native in the Andes, growing in elevations between 1600 and 2400 m above the sea. In the Quechuan language, the fruit is called lulo (the Incas called it lulum), but it is also known as obando or nuqui.
The word “naranjilla”, however, literally means “small orange”, even if the flavor is very different and the species is more closely related to the tomato and the eggplant. It grows on a spiny and leafy shrub, is of globular, ovoid shape, with a diameter of 4-6 cm, and orange or yellow in color. The pulp is green, juicy, acidic and similar to tomato.
Lulo can be consumed fresh, cut in half, and then squeezed out to collect the vitamin rich juice and pulp. It is used for preparing juice, sauces for sweets, pickles, or to make a fermented drink. Even though the fruits are still present on the market, lulo and its gastronomic uses run the risk of being forgotten, due to recent changes in food consumption patterns in Ecuador.